Feb. 25, 2013
Following it's publication in the New Yorker in 1948, Shirley Jackson's "the lottery" aroused much controversy, leading to that issue of the new Yorker quickly being sold out. Through the use of comedy and irony, Jackson demonstrates the "pointless violence and general inhumanity in [readers] own lives"
The lottery takes place in a small close knit town where tradition is taken quite seriously. Each year an event is held in which one person is randomly chosen to be executed by way of stoning carried out by the rest of the town. This violent ritual is adhered to by every member of the town, has been around for seventy seven years, and no one contests its existence.
Jackson's uses tone to confer the bizarreness of this practice. Through the friendly chatting among the townsfolk and the likening of the lottery to a more normal town event Jackson creates the sense of the lottery being a welcomed aspect of the towns festivities. The emotions surrounding the lottery are jovial and it is conducted with much anticipation as to lead the reader to believe the lottery, much like most lotteries, will end in a lucky member of the town being bestowed a gift or prize. Not until the final horrific paragraphs is the macabre truth of the lottery revealed. The stoning of an innocent towns person by friends and family.
By setting the lottery in a very normal place with a very small town feel it seems Jackson makes a very strong statement about human nature, our inherent evil, and our hypocrisy.
Individuals are mundane and carry very normal American names such as Bobby, Harry, and Dickie, and was probably a choice made by Jackson to convey a sense that despite the outward friendliness portrayed, there may be hidden a horrible festering evil.
I believe "The lottery" also presents a strong message about the dangers of conformity. Such a terrible, frightening act could only be upheld for so many years by so...