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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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Garett Theel

Joseph Dockstader


16 June 2019

The Lottery

        “The Lottery” was published in the New Yorker in 1948 by Shirley Jackson. This event was the first short story that she wrote that had gained a lot of attention by readers. The story itself is covers the tradition that the town member calls the lottery. The lottery is a traditional event when a name gets drawn and that person gets stoned to death. In her story “The Lottery,” Jackson’s use of symbolism seen in the black box, the lottery itself, and Tessie Hutchinson as a symbol that establishes the many people will follow traditions blindly.

        The black box is the box that the individual’s names are drawn of every year for the lottery. This box is the tradition of the lottery, and the irrational way of thinking the villagers have for this individual thinking. The box that is mentioned on various occasions meticulously. The villagers never even wanted to change the box even though it was old and worn out.  Towards the very beginning of the story they read “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one like to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box” (255). As an individual not in the mind frame of the villagers, Understanding that the villagers can’t just replace the box can be quiet difficult. The villagers on the other hand happened to be attached to the black box. Stated in the story “The black box grew shabbier each year, by now it was no longer black but splintered badly along one side to show.” (255). This event is simply showing how much these villagers believed in this tradition, so they could have good crops for the year.

        The lottery was a very important tradition that they would not stray from. Year after year they continue to pull a name and stone someone. But only once a year did they do this then “The rest of the year, the box was put away, sometimes one place, sometimes another; it had spent one year in Mr. Grave’s barn and another year under the foot of the post office, and sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there” (255). This is a very interesting passage. Even though the lottery was so important to these villagers, even the black box. The black box itself seems to be disregarded tell the next year of the lottery. This making the reader believe that they do have some remorse for the tradition and don’t want to think about it tell it comes around again.

        Tessie Hutchinson represents something very important, and that is that many would never question this horrible tradition. That is tell an individual’s name is drawn from the box. People will follow this tradition religiously tell the point that a family member is chosen. In the beginning Tessie almost misses the lottery as she “Clean forgot what day it was, she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and the both laughed softly” (256). This shows just how uncaring Hutchison was of the lottery. She has been through it so many times that she doesn’t believe her name will ever be pulled from the hat. But on that day Hutchison quickly remembers that the lottery is for everyone. When one of the family members get drawn Tessie shouts to Mrs. Summers “You didn’t give him enough time to take any paper he wanted. I saw you it wasn’t fair” (258). This is her excuse because she didn’t believe that the drawing was completely fair. Bill Hutchison becomes embarrassed by this because he doesn’t wasn’t to upset the tradition.

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