The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

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Week 11: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

1. 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. Discuss the purpose of the exposition.

The exposition's purpose could be to emphasize the fact that it's a nice morning, because the lottery is suppose to be a wonderful and pleasant day for everyone. This exposition may want to underline the fact that it's a very special day. The "blossoming" of flowers and the green grass indicate the reader that the scene takes place during summer – and the "fresh warmth" shows that the scene takes place one morning. The purpose of the exposition could be to allow the reader to take part of this special day, the reader can feel the fresh air and can imagine being part of the setting.

2. Describe the activities of the villagers. What is Mrs. Hutchinson doing? What are the little boys doing? What are the men talking about? What does Mr. Summers do?

The little boys were quite happy because school is finish. On june the 27th, first they were talking quietly, then "they broke into boisterous play" and stuffed their pockets with stones. So the boys made great piles of stones in the corner before joining their parents. At the end of the short story the children would throw the stones to Mrs Hutchinson. The men were gathered, and were talking about their work "surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes" . They were joking but very quietly standing far away the pile of stones. After the men call up their children to join them. Mrs Hutchinson was late for the lottery, she had forgotten "what day it was".She explained to Mrs Delacroix how she managed to forget. Then Mrs Hutchinson tried to find her husband and children through the crowd, and when she found them "she made her way through the crowd". Mrs Hutchinson was also the one protesting when her husband had the “winner” ticket “it wasn't fair”, “you didn't give him enough time to take any paper he wanted”. Mr Summer ran a coal business. He chairs the lottery and looks after the black box so no one could cheat. The lottery can't start without him.

3. At one time, some people remembered, there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory, tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year. A perfunctory action is done quickly and carelessly, and shows lack of interest in what you are doing. What does this statement say about the villagers and about the lottery itself?

We have the impression that the villagers don't really care about the lottery, it has to be quick- the quicker the better it is. It used to be a great special day, now the villagers still celebrate this lottery day but it does seem very important to them, it does look like a celebration to me. They have "forgotten the rituals" of the lottery (line 258) and drop the ritual salute easily (line 79). To emphasize the fact that this tradition isn't very important to them, the writer uses pessimistic adjectives like “tuneless”, “perfunctory” or expressions “some sort” to qualify the recital.

4. "Well, now," Mr. Summers said soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work. Anybody ain't here?" What seems important for Mr. Summers? What does that say about the Lottery?

The lottery is just a day like another, it feels like an obligation for those villagers. For Mr Summer and for everyone else, it's obvious that what's important is skipping up quickly the lottery so everyone can go back to work. Working is more important than celebrating old traditions like the lottery. Maybe one day in that village the "lottery day" won't exist anymore .

5. Discuss the general mood of the crowd.

The crowd don't look very enthusiastic about the lottery. And when someone has to draw for Danbar, no one excepted one person wants to take his place and...
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