The Lottery

8 March 2000
The Lottery
Shirley Jackson wrote The Lottery in 1948, not long after the second World War. The horror of the Holocaust was still fresh in everyones minds. Jackson wrote this story to remind everyone that we are not so far from this world of sadistic human sacrifice. She created a town, very much like any American town, with the gathering of the towns people to celebrate some annual event. She wanted to shine a mirror on contemporary society, a reflection of humanity, or rather, inhumanity. One would think that she was protesting against the shallow hypocrites that rule the world.

The town sets up this lottery in a very practical way, there were several things that were a part of the ritual that the town allowed to fade from practice. But the town still saw it necessary to stone a citizen to death once a year just because that was the way it was always done. Shirley Jackson wanted the world to try and find another way, to break away from traditions and be more humane human beings. Once the heads of household have drawn, everyone looks at the slip of paper in their hands and at the same time everyone is praying that it is not their family. Once again the family members draw and each one is praying it is not them, at the same time they know that they are about to lose a loved one. Everyone has felt these same feelings. A friend loses her husband or child and we say a little prayer of thanks to what ever power each of us believes in , thank goodness it was not me. When Tessie Hutchinson realizes that her family has been chosen she says,I tell you it wasnt fair. You didnt give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that.(233) The Lottery makes one feel guilty for desiring ones own survival. It reminds us to listen to new ideas, especially ideas that break unnecessary traditions. The world should embrace those that live their lives in a fashion that does not reflect societys idea of normal, rather than cast them out. The world could take lessons from Shirley Jackson even today.

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Work Cited
Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioa. 7th ed. New York: 1999. 228 – 229

The Lottery

Irony in The Lottery
Shirley Jackson wrote the story “The Lottery.” A lottery is typically
thought of as something good because it usually involves winning something
such as money or prizes. In this lottery it is not what they win but it is
what is lost. Point of views, situations, and the title are allironic to
the story “The Lottery.”
The point of view in “The Lottery” is ironic to the outcome. Jackson
used third person dramatic point of view when writing “The Lottery.” The
third person dramatic point of view allowed the author to keep the outcome
of the story a surprise. The outcome is ironic because the readers are led
to believe everything is fine because we do not really know what anyone is
thinking. This point of view enables the ending to be ironic.
The situations in “The Lottery” are ironic. The author’s use of words
keeps the reader thinking that there is nothing wrong and that everyone is
fine. The story starts by describing the day as “clear and sunny”(309).
The people of the town are happy and going on as if it is every other day.
The situation where Mrs. Hutchinson is jokingly saying to Mrs. Delacroix
“Clean forgot what day it was”(311) is ironic because something that is so
awful cannot truly be forgotten. At the end of the story when Mrs.
Hutchinson is chosen for the lottery, it is ironic that it does not upset
her that she was chosen. She is upset because of the way she is chosen.
She shows this by saying “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (316). The
situation is extremely ironic to the story.
The title of the story “The Lottery” is ironic. By reading the title
of the story the reader may think that someone is going to win something.
In actuality when the reader gets to the end of the story, he finds just
the opposite to be true. Jackson shows every day as if it is any other
summer day. Jackson foreshadows the events to come by writing:
School was recently over for the summer . . . Bobby Martin had
already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys
soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest
stones; . . . eventually made a pile of stones in one corner of the
square and guarded it against the raids of other boys. (310) After reading
this, the reader thinks the children are just collecting stones because
that is what children do. They do not expect the outcome to turn out like
it does. The title has the reader believing that something good is going
to happen, and will not know any different until the end of the story.
The point of view, situation, and title all contribute to the irony
in the story. These are all equally important to the irony and without
them the story would not have been as interesting as it was. If these were
not included then the story would not be the same and would not keep the
readers’ interest.


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