A Summary of Shirley Jackson’s “the Lottery”

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The disturbing social practice of Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” is discussed in terms of, “the scapegoat traditions of anthropology and literature” (Nebeker 2003). The “ritual murder” in this “atmosphere of modern, small-town normality” brings shock to the reader; there are many events that led up to this throughout the story. (Nebeker 2003). In support of these statements Jackson lays out events that lead the reader to the horrific tradition.

Jackson starts off by describing the setting of the early morning of June 27th. She “carefully” set the scene by “the date, the air of festivity, release, even license” (Nebeker 2003). The children were released from school and Nebeker maintains that, “Bobby Martin has already stuff his pockets with stones and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix follow his example” with their pile of stones they guard them from the other boys (Jackson 263, Nebeker 2003). At the end of the first couple of paragraphs Jackson has “carefully indicated the season, the sacrifice, and the stones, most ancient of sacrificial weapons.” In the next couple of paragraphs the men are “gathering” in the town square talking amongst each other about “central issues of the ancient propitiatory rites,” tractors and taxes, which are “modern additions to the concerns of men” (Nebeker 2003). With the men silenced and more alert the “patriarchal order” (the oldest social group of man) is now more “evidenced” as the women begin to join their husbands and “call” their children to them (Nebeker 2003). Mr. Summers who runs a “coal” business and Mr. Graves the “postman” carry the “three-legged stool,” and the “black box” to the center of the crowd (Nebeker 2003). When the black box and stool are installed in the center everyone moves away, this shows the fear the towns people have of the box. As the black box is “referred” to many times in the next two paragraphs the three-legged stool is “stressed” just as much which makes it just as important...
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