The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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 There are many characters that are named in Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”. Mr. Summers, a kindly man who runs a coal business, Mr. Martin and his sons, Baxter and Bobby. There is Mr. Graves, the man who helped Mr. Summers prepare the lottery, and Old Man Warner. There is Mr. Hutchinson, Mrs. Hutchinson, and their daughter Eva and son-in-law, Don—just to name a few. And although Jackson’s story has many characters, she is most interested in the social phenomenon of the lottery than she is in the characters, themselves. Instead, the characters serve as a means to depict “a graphic demonstration of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in people’s lives” (213).     From the start of the story, throughout, and in the end, Jackson defines her view of society’s insouciant attitude toward violence with the villagers’ apathetic way of life.  Every year on June 27th, the families of the village (and of other towns, too) gather in the center of town and participate in a lottery which culminates with the stoning death of a member of one of the families. This heinous tale takes place amid a pleasant setting, “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green” (213).  She writes of the children playing and little boys gathering stones that are stockpiled and guarded and ready for the kill.    Jackson stupefies the reader as she describes how the lottery is meticulously prepared by Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves, with such pomp and circumstance: “There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open” (214).   Then there’s poor Mrs. Hutchinson, who, in her ominous late arrival, is greeted by Mr. Summers, “Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie”, and she jokingly replies, “Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now would you, Joe?” (215).  It is this kind of small-talk among the villagers...
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