Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery"

Essay by kayc February 2003

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

Downloaded 231 times

In Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery", the main theme is how traditions lose their meaning due to human forgetfulness. This can cause horrible consequences to occur.

The story is set in a small town, 'on the morning of June 27th'. It opens with false innocence, using children, tricking the reader into an unaware state. The reader almost expects the Lottery to be something wonderful since the "normal" lottery has the winner getting a prize of a large amount of money or possession. Even the story alludes to the innocence, explaining how Mr. Summers also holds 'square dances, teenage club and the Halloween program' in the same spot that the lottery is held.

In "the Lottery" we discover in the end, the town-folk use the lottery to pick a "winner" to stone to death. The winner is picked using a black box that has been around for ages.

Within the box are slips of paper, enough for the entire town. On one slip of paper is a black dot for the one lucky winner. The black dot on the slip of paper identifies the lucky winner of the lottery; the person who will get stoned by their neighbors. No one in town really knows exactly why it is a tradition although some have some vague ideas.

Old Man Warner alludes that it was once said "lottery in June, corn be heavy soon". Ironically, even the oldest member of this village doesn't even remember the real reason behind the lottery. Perhaps the villagers once drew names from this black box. When their name was drawn, the villager confessed his or her sins and was punished by having rocks thrown at them. As times changed, 'The Lottery' was implemented.

On the eighth paragraph of 'The Lottery...