Let me start with a quick note: for those of you who’ve stumbled upon this post and are not here from my Genres class, I recommend you read the short story ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson. It is linked here for your convenience.
This town is a close-knit community. While they boast significant growth as one of the reasons for their adaptations of the lottery rituals. However, they have intimate knowledge of each other’s lives, so much so that when Mr. Summers asks if anyone was yet to arrive, the townspeople immediately know not only is Mr. Dunbar missing, but he has a broken leg.
The lottery drawing has incredible significance. The townspeople gather together to partake in the event, and ridicule the northern village who has plans to give up the practice.
The first half of the story frames the lottery as a positive thing. In fact, simply calling it a lottery insinuates there is something to be gained from it. This particular framing is done away with once the Hutchinson family is revealed to have been chosen. Reactions from the crowd now indicate the lottery is something you don’t want, with one person trying to give reason to let him draw again.
My jaw dropped as soon as I read the section where characters select stones to throw at Tessie Hutchinson. This story presumably takes place in rural America, and likely in the past. Even then, I had to ask myself how such a practice would arise and continue for many years. Could it simply be in an effort to reduce the number of mouths to feed? I found this hard to believe considering a capitalist society like the United States is based on the principle that those who have money can buy necessities, while those not so fortunate are often left behind.
There is no semblance of a governmental system; in fact, Mr. Summers seems to have the most authority there out of anyone. The crowd operates with a sort of mob mentality, taking what the piece of paper with a black dot says as the final word and silencing Mrs. Hutchinson’s cries of protest.
This story has a powerful message, I’m just not sure if I know what it is yet.