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"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
Transcript of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
The Danger of Blindly Following Tradition
Similarities Between Movie & Book
Differences Between Book & Movie
The Black Box
Relics of the Lotteries Past
Shirley Jackson Info.
All of the villagers that take part of "The Lottery" all commit in a violent murder to one of the other townsfolk each year, in a very strange ritual that seems to suggest how dangerous tradition can be when people follow it blindly. The villagers’ blind acceptance of the lottery has allowed ritual murder to become an annual tradition. As they've shown in the story, they seem to feel powerless to change. If the villagers ever stopped to question The Lottery, they would be forced to ask themselves (if not others as well) why they have been forced to committing a murder as "tradition" for such a long time—but nobody ever stops to question it.
The ominous black box represents both the tradition of the lottery and the illogic of the villagers’ loyalty to it. The black box is nearly broken, and falling apart,. It hardly even a black color anymore after many years of annual use and storage, but the villagers are unwilling to ever replace it.
The lottery is filled with certain, similar relics of old tradition that have supposedly been passed down from earlier lotteries. Two interesting relics of this traditions past are the use of a list that has all the families last names, and the use of stones to "finish the tradition quickly".
of the Lottery. She is the one who picks the slip with the only mark on it and is eventually stoned to death. She is the only one that arrives late at the center of the village because she forgot what day it was that day (a small sign of foreshadowing). She is excited about being part of the lottery and fully willing to participate every year, but once her family’s name is drawn, she begins to protest that the lottery isn’t fair. And then, she meets her sad fate.
The oldest man in the village. Mr. Warner has participated in seventy-seven lotteries before this one. He condemns the younger people from other villages or towns who have stopped holding this tradition, believing that the lottery keeps people from returning to a barbaric state. (A little late to believe that, don't you think?)
Old Man Warner (Mr. Warner)
Mr. Summers is the owner of a coal company, has no children, and is one of the village leaders. He is the one who conducts all the events, such as the Lottery. He is the one who prepares the slips of paper that go inside the damaged black box and calls the names of the heads of all the families, who draw the papers.
Tessie’s husband. He is the one who draws the first marked paper, but on the second drawing, he picks a blank paper. He is fully willing to show everyone that his wife, Tessie, has drawn the marked paper. (What a
Slide's 2 - 5: http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/the-lottery/characters.html
The lottery represents any action, behavior, or idea that was passed down from one generation to the next one that has accepted and followed this tradition unquestioningly, no matter how illogical, strange, or cruel it is. This tradition/ritual has been taking place in the village for as long as anyone can remember (i.e. Old Man Warner, who has participated in 77 lotteries before this one). The villagers show fully loyalty to The Lottery, or, at least, that's what they tell themselves, despite the fact that many of the old parts and rules of the lottery have been changed or withered away over time.
Slide 6: http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/the-lottery/themes.html
Surprisingly, the town used in the made for T.V. movie version of the Lottery exists! Strangely, though, the town is not called "New Hope", it's just called "Hope". Hope is a town in Knox County, Maine, with a population of 1,310.
The tone seems to serve to underscore the horror of the Lottery, as there is (or was) no shift in tone when the story shifts profoundly from a calm, generic realism to very nightmarish symbolism. We all go from reading about a small village on a bright, warm summer day to witnessing the villagers execute a member of their own community, all without the slightest change in tone form the author.
Slide 7: http://www.shmoop.com/lottery-shirley-jackson/tone.html
The mysterious tone of the village faintly signals its setting. It adds to the horror of the Lottery that we can imagine it taking place anywhere, in any small town we might know or not. We cannot confine the violence of the lottery to one specific area or even a certain set of people: Jackson's critique is World-wide. The references to other towns that hold their own lotteries contribute to our sense that Jackson isn't talking about just one community, but instead critiquing most (if not all) of society as a whole.
Slide 8: http://www.shmoop.com/lottery-shirley-jackson/setting.html
Slide 9 - 11: http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/the-lottery/themes.html
Both lotteries take place on the same day (June 27).
The town's that hold the Lottery are portrayed as quiet, calm little villages.
A mother of one of the families in the village get stoned to death at the end of the tradition.
Both the story and book have a female character who are very calm, gentle people, but once their families are drawn, start to get very angry and/or upset.
The both of us really enjoyed reading this story! It's setting was quite strange for a ritual like
to happen, but with what Jackson is trying to say through the story, the setting does make a little sense, if you think about it. We were both really excited to read this story, and we're really excited to read what's up next semester! Have a great Winter Break, everyone!
- Heath & Cassy
Born: December 14, 1916
Died: August 8, 1965
Wrote 106 stories throughout her life.
Wrote her first story, "Janice", in 1937.
The Lottery was the best Short Story she published in her lifetime.
Jackson was believed to be a Witch at one point, because she used to collect books on Witchcraft, and even practice Witchcraft herself.
The movie starts off in a very rural city, whilst in the book, it started off in a quiet village.
Tessie Hutchingson dies at the end of the story, but is still alive and works for the town's Police Department in the movie.
In the movie, the townsfolk try as hard as they can to hide the Lotteries existence to "outsiders" by doing an assortment of things (Such as replace the officer who was murdered towards the end), but in the book, the townsfolk were just scared of the lottery itself, and didn't seem to care about any outsiders knowing.
All images courtesy of
Slide 14: http://shirleyjackson.org/