top-rated free essay

Lottery Essay

By tayz12345678 Oct 29, 2012 1581 Words
Shirley Jackson wrote many different books all with different themes and different meanings. One style she liked to write about a lot was of the ritualistic nature, and about very bone chilling stories that she would come up with. Some examples of this are the books “The Haunting”, “The Witch”, “The Possibility of Evil”, etc. all written by Shirley Jackson herself. One story in particular that uses a sense of ritualistic nature is the short story “The Lottery” also written by Shirley Jackson. This story is about a village that is subject to around 300 villagers that have a certain tradition which is a special type of “lottery” that happens every year; the “winner” is to be stoned to death by their fellow neighbours. Jackson also stresses the importance of human nature, which is that humans are conditioned to do what is taught since birth. Jackson also uses Ritualistic features that are not just the lottery itself but actions and the way the lottery is done is very ritualistic in a sense.

It was the same thing every year when the lottery came into play in the summer time, nothing has ever changed, and the villagers have done everything the way their elders did it and so forth. In a sense it was a ritualistic “tradition”. Jackson shows use of ritualistic nature in the very first paragraph about how the lottery was always on a specific date which was June 27th, except “in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th” (293), this shows the reader how dedicated the towns people are to a tradition that has been with them for as long as they can remember, and how the villagers would all meet in the same place every time which was always between the post office and the bank around 10am. In many opinions “The Lottery” could be considered as a “ritual” the way the towns people follow specific procedures. The way that Shirley Jackson starts off the story it’s like she’s telling us about a great town with very happy people and the lottery is a wonderful thing, the way she describes it, this gives the reader a bigger surprise for what is to come later on in the story. Even the story alludes to the innocence, explaining how the town also holds “square dances, teenage club and the Halloween program” (273) in the same spot that the lottery is held. When the towns people gathered for the lottery the children would always assemble first, and then came the men next, and finally the women assembled last. The nature of this action is very ritualistic because it is simply tradition to file children first then men and then women. The box that was used for the lottery had been passed down from generation to generation giving the reader the idea of how old the ritualistic tradition was. The box was a black box which was made of wood and was constructed before the oldest man in the village was born. This also suggests an idea of how old the lottery is to the reader. This “new” box, or the “present” box, was constructed with pieces of the “old” box. This could be seen as a way of incorporating older lotteries from the town’s people’s elders or ancestors, the reader might interpret this as ritualistic/superstitious in nature. After the lottery would be all finished up for the year the black box would be stored in public places. It would be stored in public places so that all of the town’s people could see it. This would give the towns people a visual of their “special” tradition and to remind them of what was to come in the future. It could also give outsiders questions about the ritualistic nature of the town and the people who live in it. There is a small change in the ritual that the official, who is Mr. Summers, made because of the growth of the town since previous lotteries. Mr. Summers decided to substitute the wood chips that are used for the votes for the winner of the lottery for paper slips. This was done because wood chips for all could not fit in one small black box. From lotteries in previous generations to lotteries in the village now, there have been few changes in the rituals of the official and of the lottery. In the past officials of the lottery were chosen at random but in present lotteries, such as this one, the official must undergo a proper swearing in by the postmaster to be the official of the present lotteries. Some of the older villagers remember a speech the official would give to maybe try and comfort the villagers in participating in the lottery. Villagers know very much about the history of the tradition because the official of the lottery doesn’t remember the history either. This shows that the villagers don’t even know the reasoning for the ritualistic tradition. Mr. Summers does not know that there is a “perfunctory tuneless chant“(295) that he was supposed to sing during the lottery. It was also believed in the village that the official of the lottery would walk in around and among the people as they gathered. As times passed this part of the ritual gets skipped. One more part of the ritual that tends to get skipped is when Mr. Summers, the official of the lottery, was supposed to give a “ritual salute” (296) as each of the villagers would approach the black box, now Mr. Summers would just simply greet each villager approaching the black box. But just like other parts of the ritual this changed over time. Attitudes of the town’s people toward the lottery are very compelling in a sense because even though nobody shows their hate toward the lottery, they do dread going to it every year. Each family of the village has a chance that one of their family members might be killed after the lottery is complete, you can only imagine what everyone in the village is feeling. In the story, when Mr. Summers arrives at the lottery being late he sets the black box on the stool from where everyone will choose a ballet, the villagers keeps their distance. This shows the reader the fear of the town’s people toward the lottery and quite frankly what they think of it as well. When Mr. Summers asked for help, “some of you fellows want to give me a hand?” (294), a man and his son came forward but not right away, there was some hesitation between them. This also shows the reader that not only do the villagers want to be a part of the lottery they especially do not want to help set it up. These attitudes are interpreted in many different ways. Attitudes in a character can tell a lot about a characters personality. One way of interpreting these attitudes is in the perception of time. The villagers feel as if these lotteries are coming one after another, they feel time seems to be flying by for them. One villager states “seems like there’s no time at all in between the lotteries” (298), another says “seems like we got through the last lottery only last week” (298). The reader might interpret this by thinking the villagers are going through lotteries very fast but in fact there is just one once a year. Another way of interpreting the attitudes of the villagers is through fear and signs the villager’s show of fear in the story. The villagers exhibited fear almost as soon as the lottery was beginning. In the story a woman named Mrs. Delacroix, of the Delacroix family, held her breath when her husband, Mr. Delacroix, walked up to grab a ballet from the black box. The reader could easily interpret this action as fear in the story. Also in the story, Old Man Warner had heard from another village that other villages had talked about stopping the lottery for a while, or even possibly giving up the lottery for good. The reader would defiantly sense this as fear because if other towns and villages are speaking of giving this “ritual” up it is obviously thought of as wrong. Old Man Warner stated “it’s not the way it used to be, people ain’t the way they used to be” (301). Once they had a winner the lottery was “almost” over, Mr. Summers stated “alright folks lets finish quickly” (301). Even though, over the years the villagers had forgotten a lot about the actual ritual, they still remembered the use of the stones. The ritual was such a normal part of the villager’s life that regardless of the relationship of the winner everyone would be expected to take part in the stoning. Even the children had the stones all ready, and someone even gave little Davey Hutchinson a few pebbles, indicating regardless that it was his mother; it was a normal thing to do. “The Lottery” shows plenty of instances with use of ritualistic nature and how the certain ritual is to be done. The villagers followed rules and expectations having to do with this. Attitudes in the characters shows the feelings the villagers feel toward the lottery and also toward themselves as well. And even though this village doesn’t remember the reasoning for this ritual it will always be a “tradition”.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • The Lottery Essay

    ...Inborn Evil and Weakness of Mankind Displayed in “The Lottery” “It may be that we are puppets-puppets controlled by the strings of society. But at least we are puppets with perception, with awareness, and perhaps our awareness is the first step to our liberation.” This insightful quote was once said by Psychologist Stanley Milgram who...

    Read More
  • The Lottery Essay

    ...peoples’ working conditions could possibly have a group malfunction as in co-workers can be racist to one another. 2. We are told a lot about the lottery, but not its exact purpose. Do the townspeople know? Is this omission significant? Intentional? No, the townspeople do not know the lottery’s exact purpose. This omission is not sig...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...Kyle Simms ENC 1102 Professor Daniels Essay 1 The Lottery The story by Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”, is a very unusual story. It is unique in its own ways. The author Shirley Jackson is definitely a passionate, creative writer to write a story like this one. There are some odd themes and lessons we can all learn from this crazy ...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...Paul Fallon Professor Vladick College Writing II 27 March 2013 The Lottery Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is a short story about a small village that has an event every year called the lottery. Jackson does not let the reader know right away about the irony of the lottery; it is not something the villagers would want to win. Jackson does n...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...Literary Analysis Essay: The Lottery “The Lottery,” written by Shirley Jackson, is a short story about a strange annual ritual that takes place in a small village in New England. At the beginning of the story the day is described as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...FRANKLIN FOTOH ENGL 102 7/30/13 "The Lottery" by Jackson, is a short story which talks about a tradition which comes up once a year in a little village of about 300 natives. In the lottery process, one person is selected randomly and heinously stoned to death. Tessie Hutchinson is the victim of this social disturbing practice and she protes...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...Word Count: 933 The Lottery In the short story “The Lottery” the villagers gather together at the village square one day a year in the warm summer for the traditional Lottery. During the Lottery the head of household chooses a slip of paper in hopes their family is not the chosen one. As soon as the “winner” is announced the communit...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ... Every year millions of people line up at gas stations and convenience stores with the ultimate desire to be the next winner of the lottery. The lottery is a tradition in our country, a tradition that has led to thousands of winners who are deemed “the lucky ones.” However, is following tradition always a good thing? Are the winners of this ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.