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An Analysis of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

By cjx040422 Mar 09, 2013 862 Words
This story was named “The Lottery”, it was written by Shirley Jackson, and it was first published in the June 26, 1948. At the beginning of the story, people in the town were really nice with one another. The kids were finding rocks, it made me had the feeling of the town is a really quiet and harmonious town where everyone can get along with others. But the story had a huge change as it goes through; the lottery had become a death warrant ticket to the people in the village. I thought that the lottery is the ones that is similar to the ones we have today, but after I read the story, it had become a tool of killing. This story had showed us the dark sides of human, such as selfish, cruel to others, and also the ignorant.

Everyone in the world is selfish, each individual is selfish, and they would only do the thing that is good to them. The village lottery culminates in a violent murder each year, a bizarre ritual that suggests how dangerous tradition can be when people follow it blindly. Before we know what kind of lottery they’re conducting, the villagers and their preparations seem harmless, even quaint: they’ve appointed a rather pathetic man to lead the lottery, and children run about gathering stones in the town square. Everyone is seems preoccupied with a funny-looking black box, and the lottery consists of little more than handmade slips of paper. Tradition is endemic to small towns, a way to link families and generations. Jackson, however, pokes holes in the reverence that people have for tradition. She writes that the villagers don’t really know much about the lottery’s origin but try to preserve the tradition nevertheless. Villagers persecute individuals at random, and the victim is guilty of no transgression other than having drawn the wrong slip of paper from a box. The elaborate ritual of the lottery is designed so that all villagers have the same chance of becoming the victim—even children are at risk. Each year, someone new is chosen and killed, and no family is safe. What makes “The Lottery” so chilling is the swiftness with which the villagers turn against the victim. The instant that Tessie Hutchinson chooses the marked slip of paper, she loses her identity as a popular housewife. Her friends and family participate in the killing with as much enthusiasm as everyone else. Tessie essentially becomes invisible to them in the fervor of persecution. Although she has done nothing “wrong,” her innocence doesn’t matter. She has drawn the marked paper—she has herself become marked—and according to the logic of the lottery, she therefore must die.

The cruel of human to other had simply represents in the story by Jackson. Tessie’s death is an extreme example of how societies can persecute innocent people for absurd reasons. Present-day parallels are easy to draw, because all prejudices, whether they are based on race, sex, appearance, religion, economic class, geographical region, family background, or sexual orientation, are essentially random. Those who are persecuted become “marked” because of a trait or characteristic that is out of their control—for example, they are the “wrong” sex or from the “wrong” part of the country. Just as the villagers in “The Lottery” blindly follow tradition and kill Tessie because that is what they are expected to do, people in real life often persecute others without questioning why. As Jackson suggests, any such persecution is essentially random, which is why Tessie’s bizarre death is so universal. Even the kids in the town would participate in the killing process, and they would also start with preparing the rocks for everyone in the town.

The ignorant of people were representing by following the lottery process. The lottery is rife with rules that are arbitrarily followed or disregarded. The intricate rules the villagers follow suggest that the lottery is an efficient, logical ritual and that there is an important purpose behind it, whereas the rules that have lapsed, however, reveal the essential randomness of the lottery’s dark conclusion. Mr. Summers follows an elaborate system of rules for creating the slips of paper and making up the lists of families. When the lottery begins, he lays out a series of specific rules for the villagers, including who should draw slips of paper from the black box and when to open those papers. When someone is unable to draw, the lottery rules determine who should be next in line. At the same time, there are ghosts of rules that have been long forgotten or willfully abandoned altogether, such as those for salutes and songs that accompany Mr. Summer’s induction as the chairman of the lottery. The fact that some rules have remained while others have disappeared underscores the disturbing randomness of the murder at the end of the lottery.

People in the now days were just as cruel as the ones in the story, when facing the problem that had harm their profits, they would rather kill others for no reason, and the ignorant and also selfish, this story was criticizing the bad human natures people have.

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