‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson is a short story that uses plot. characterisation and suspense to develop several themes. In doing so Jackson deepens our understanding of people and the nature of society. The story begins in a growing village which holds an annual lottery, but instead of being rewarded the person who receives the marked paper gets stoned to death.
This itself demonstrates one of the main themes of man’s inhumanity to man. Jackson also shows this by telling the reader that it is a small community that murders one of its own members which shows the shocking and cruel nature achieved by humans. We can see this by looking at the start of the story when a group of boys play at the lake:
“Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example”
This shows inhumanity in an unclear way because the reader doesn’t know why they are doing collecting stones but soon realise at the end that it was so they could throw them at the person who was about to get stoned.
Another aspect which shows that the civilisation is inhumane is that the village barely conceal the savagery of killing a member of its own community. Jackson shows this by telling us that the killings are done by ‘decent’ people who are show themselves to be kind generous people, but a family realises that it is no their family they proceed with an unsympathetic disinterest for the family that does receive the marked paper. Also, the village does not attempt to hide their actions from other villages, which tells us that they think that their actions are the right actions to take. This story also makes the reader question:
“Is life expandable?”
It may make us think of this because good innocent people still suffer, and that it was all down to chance that decides what happens...
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