The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery was a short story written by Shirley Jackson in 1948 and was first published in the magazine, The New Yorker. The Lottery was one of those stories that was very dark in context and had nothing to do with the topic “lottery”. The short story was even banned from libraries and schools until around 1980. The story was even banned from publication in the United States until around 1975. The short story “The Lottery” is considered one of the best literary works and is a classical story now.

The main plot of the story is that the town has a yearly activity whereby they choose a name from box and that individual is stoned to death. The leader of each family, in the town, get the chance to select a name from the Black Box for the yearly stoning. The most sickening part of the story is that children are allowed to participate in the yearly activity. The stoning of a town member is celebrated and everything closes on this particular day to complete the stoning. Another sickening detail of the story is that town members craft special stones for the stoning of a town member. It seems that the town fails to realize that if they continue with this yearly ritual that the town will no longer exist because everyone would have been stoned to death.

The author, Shirley Jackson, was not surprised at the reaction she received when she published the short story in June of 1948. She wanted the readers to take a close look at their inner conscience and see how they react to certain situations. The author wanted the readers to realize that are certain behaviors that we will make excuses for and certain behaviors we will not make any excuses for.

The Lottery seems to suggest that every living person has a sadistic and uncaring side to them. That sometimes many people are afraid to speak up and state that something is not right and needs to end. Also, the short story shows how society loves tradition and rituals, even if, they are immoral or wrong. The story shows how individuals will not “rock the boat” or change because it is wrong to do so. Ms. Jackson was not afraid to push the moral button of society in 1948 and was not afraid to deal with the negative feedback she would receive from the readers.

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