The Lottery By Shirley Jackson Essay Questions

It is not hard to account for this response: Jackson's story portrays an "average" New England village with "average" citizens engaged in a deadly rite, the annual selection of a sacrificial victim by means of a public lottery, and does so quite deviously: not until well along in the story do we suspect that the "winner" will be stoned to death by the rest of the villagers. Please do not ask me to answer your classroom essay questions for you; it defeats the purpose of your instructor having given you the assignment.

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No mere "irrational" tradition, the lottery is an . Martin steadies the lottery box as the slips are stirred (p. In the off season, the lottery box is stored either at their places of business or their residences: "It had spent on year in Mr. That such a relationship does exist is suggested by one of the most revealing lines of the text.

It serves to reinforce the village's hierarchical social order by instilling the villages with an unconscious fear that if they resist this order they might be selected in the next lottery. Graves' barn and another year underfoot in the post-office, and sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there" (p. Who controls the town, then, also controls the lottery. When Bill Hutchinson forces his wife Tessie to open her lottery slip to the crowd, Jackson writes, "It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr.

But this illusion alone does not account for the full force of the lottery over the village.

The lottery also reinforces a village work ethic which distracts the villagers' attention from the division of labor that keeps women powerless in their homes and Mr. name if there ever was one) emerges as an apologist for this work ethic when he recalls an old village adage, "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon" (p. At one level, the lottery seems to be a modern version of a planting ritual that might once have prepared the villagers for the collective work necessary to produce a harvest.

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Women, who have no direct link to the economy as defined by capitalism--the arena of activity in which labor is exchanged for wages and profits are made--choose in the lottery only in the absence of a "grown," working male. When Tessie Hutchinson appears late to the lottery, other men address her husband Bill, "here comes your Missus, Hutchinson" (p. None of the men, that is to say, thinks of addressing Tessie first, since she "belongs" to Bill.

Women, then, have a distinctly subordinate position in the socio-economic hierarchy of the village. Most women in the village take this patriarchal definition of their role for granted, as Mrs. Delacroix's references to their husbands as their "old [men]" suggests (pp. Tessie, as we shall see later, is the only one who rebels against male domination, although only unconsciously.

These remaining rules determine who gets to choose slips in the lottery's first, second and third rounds.

Before the lottery, lists are "[made] up of heads of families [who choose in the first round], heads of households [who choose in the second round], [and] members of each household in each family [who choose in the last round]" (p. The second round is missing from the story because the family patriarch who selects the dot in the first round--Bill Hutchinson--has no married male offspring.


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