Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Lottery, Literature, Ritual, Family, Box, Village, Tradition, People

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/27


The Lottery is authored by Shirley Jackson, who is a master at manipulating her reader. The title itself is a great example as to how Jackson is an expert with toppling reader expectations. The word “lottery” fills one with hope, and the reader is taken to another level of the grim reality of the lottery. The story is about a small village or town, where the people gather together for the town lottery. Mr. Summers runs the lottery and arrives at the village square with the black box used for lottery and Mr. Graves, the postmaster. Men, women and children stand together and the list of all the families in the village is made before the lottery begins. Tessie Hutchinson arrives late for the lottery as she forgets about the day. Dunbar is not there, but Mrs. Dunbar will draw for him. Everybody is explained by the rules of the lottery. When everyone opens his or her papers, Bill Hutchinson is the winner. Tessie argues and protests that the lottery is not fair. Mr. Graves drops the papers out of the box and places papers in for the Hutchinson. When the family members draw a paper, they find that Tessie’s paper has a black dot on it. Everyone begins throwing stones at her. What is so upsetting about the story is that how humans can easily turn themselves into brutal murderers and Jackson touches the hellish side of human nature.The horror of the story only magnifies each time it is read again (Jackson). The author creates a story filled with symbolism, imagery, irony, and a ritualized tradition masking evil, and so many different elements are not commonly found together in a short story. The story also points to the herd mentality of people and how people can blindly follow a tradition.

The spine-chilling story is abounded in ironies and can be seen from the very start of the story, with the narrator telling the story while remaining outside the characters. The discrepancy between civilized behavior, as well as the calm acceptance of the primitive ritual, gives a terrible power to the story. The readers have no clue as to what is going to happen on that bright and sunny June day and that the small town is preparing for a ritual murder. The townspeople are perfectly normal and ordinary beings, and behave so even on the day of the gory ritual. The time and day speak of mid-summer in the story, and these represent reckless abandon. The blossoming flowers and green grass seem oblivious to the gruesome ritual that take place in the village.Jackson makes use of milder tones and soft words to convince readers and manages to keep them unaware of the violent and bloody ritual in the story. The Lottery" is a distinctive sample of her use of irony (Zhu).


The black box in the story has an important connection to the ritual of lottery that the story is focused on. Jackson is pretty clear on the subject of replacing the box that is a physical manifestation of the connection to tradition by the villagers. The villagers believe that the box is made of splinters of the previous boxes and thus contains elements of the first original Black Box. This reminds the readers of the practice of collecting like hair or bone from the bodies of the saints, etc. The black box reminds the villagers of the violent tradition that has been a part of the village for a long time now. Every June, the black box plays an important role during the two hours. Apart from that it may find a place on a shelf in the Martin grocery or underfoot in the post office or Mr. Graves's barn. Although it is worn out and old, the villagers are unwilling to let it go, just like the ritual of lottery. It seems that the villagers are afraid of the lottery as well as the box (The Lottery).


There are many disturbing and unspoken elements of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. With those innocuous details of the village and its characters, the readers are unaware of the violent conclusion that is cleverly foreshadowed by the author. Each and every one comes for the lottery and in time. The reader of would assume that the winner will certainly get a reward or prize. Children placing stones in their pockets seems like a harmless play, but the true purpose become evident only later, towards the end of the story. Jackson builds suspense by withholding explanation, and the true nature of the lottery outcome is not known until the first stone hits Tessie’s head. The reader is never told wheat the lottery is about, but the term itself is enough to stand for a reward or a prize, that is naturally assumed by the reader. The reader feels that something is wrong when she protests Bill’s selection. The readers get a shock when they learn that the winner of the lottery gets stoned to death by the villagers. The otherwise perfectly normal human beings turn murderous because of sanitized ritual in brutality. Jackson is successful in withholding information until the last possible second and makes a powerful and shocking conclusion (The Lottery).


In “The Lottery “, it is unthinkable to dispense with the tradition of the lottery as the village people are too immersed in conformity to think about breaking any tradition. Although fictional stories are made of imaginary elements, they are very true to the reality and mirror the society. During the ancient times, people believed that sacrificing persons or animals can help them get rid of their sins. Shirley Jackson has based her short story "The Lottery," on man's intrinsic need for such rituals (Griffin).
Such traditions of extreme horror may not be present today or are known of, there are still strange customs that exist. For example, in a region in Solapur, India, every year parents get together at the top of a 50 foot tower to throw their babies. The villagers on the ground with a sheet catch the babies as they fall. The practice is believed to give the children long and healthy lives (Rathi). Although the ritual is followed by Muslim families and parents, there are Hindu families too who are seen to engage in it. Parents take part in this ritual despite the fact that the national government and the local authorities are opposed to it and provide policing. There may be many other traditions and rituals that may look bizarre to the other societies but not to those who are a part of it.


Griffin, Amy. "Jackson's The Lottery." The Explicator 58.1 (1999): 44-6."The Lottery." Sparknotes.com. Sparknotes, 2015. Web. http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/the-lottery/section1.rhtml>.Rathi, Mohit. "What Are Some Bizarre Indian Cultural Traditions / Rituals?" Quora.com. Quora, 2012. Web. <http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-bizarre-Indian-cultural-traditions-rituals>.Zhu, Yuhan. "Ironies in the Lottery." Studies in Literature and Language 6.1 (2013): 35-9.

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WePapers. (2020, November, 27) The Irony Essay Example. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-irony-essay-example/
"The Irony Essay Example." WePapers, 27 Nov. 2020, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-irony-essay-example/. Accessed 19 August 2022.
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WePapers. The Irony Essay Example. [Internet]. November 2020. [Accessed August 19, 2022]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-irony-essay-example/
"The Irony Essay Example." WePapers, Nov 27, 2020. Accessed August 19, 2022. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-irony-essay-example/
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"The Irony Essay Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 27-Nov-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-irony-essay-example/. [Accessed: 19-Aug-2022].
The Irony Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-irony-essay-example/. Published Nov 27, 2020. Accessed August 19, 2022.

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