Analysis of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson P.1

Shirley Jackson upset a lot of people when she first introduced her story in 1948. It seemed a strange subject to undertake in modern, enlightened times. Because, obviously, no one would participate in such an archaic, barbaric ritual. She was insulting the modest people of the Midwest by suggesting that they were backward and superstitious. How could a modern author (especially a woman) write such an inflammatory piece of drivel?

     "The Lottery" was a short story set in a non-descript town, in the corn belt, at about the time of its writing. The cast of characters included a small town business owner in Mr. Summers, a postmaster named Graves, and the usual cast of characters. We are never privileged to know the name of the town because the author seems to see a need to include us all.

     At first it seems like a slightly skewed normal day in the life of any small town. Everyone seems to be getting ready for a festival of some sort. The children are the first to gather because school has been let out early. The children are silent at first, but then they begin to laugh, play, and gather stones. The men show up next. Wandering into the square, and talking quietly to one another. They recount ordinary events of the day. The women are the last to arrive. They go to stand by their husbands, and then begin to call their children.

     All of this seems normal enough. However, instead of a happy, excited crowd there is a nervous tension. The kids only begin to play after they arrive silently. The men discuss normal enough events, but somberly. The women fall into line by their husbands without seeking out each other's company. One gets the

 

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