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A Review of Shirley Jackson’s Lottery

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Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is a story of a small town whose citizens are required to participate in a yearly “lottery”. The reader soon finds, however, that unlike most lotteries this is not a lottery that you hope to win. Although it is not fairly clear who the main character of “The Lottery” is we learn that Tessie Hutchinson ends up being the dynamic character of the story. When she finds out that her husband, Bill Hutchinson, is the winner of this lottery she begins to complain saying that he did not have enough time to choose any paper he wanted.

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Bill, still not having a problem with the lottery, tells Tessie to shut up and they continue on. All of Tessie’s life she has been peer pressured into thinking that the lottery was just a fun thing that the town had always done. It is not until she is declared the winner that her attitude changes about the lottery, and she learns that peer pressure can sometimes lead you to a position that you never wanted to be in.

When Tessie Hutchinson arrives late to the lottery, admitting that she forgot what day it was, she immediately stands out from the other villagers as someone different and perhaps even threatening.

Whereas the other women arrive at the square calmly, chatting with one another and then standing placidly by their husbands, Tessie arrives flustered and out of breath. The crowd must part for her to reach her family, and she and her husband endure good-natured teasing as she makes her way to them. On a day when the villagers’ single focus is the lottery, this breach of propriety seems inappropriate, even unforgivable; everyone comes to the lottery, and everyone comes on time. The only person absent is a man whose leg is broken.

Although Tessie quickly settles into the crowd and joins the lottery like everyone else, Jackson has set her apart as a kind of free spirit who was able to forget about the lottery entirely as she performed her chores. Once all of the heads of households receive slips, they simultaneously check them. Bill Hutchinson has selected the special slip, and his family is singled out. So perhaps she is a free spirit, Tess Hutchinson expresses her discontent and accuses Mrs. Summers of not giving her husband enough time to select his slip. Nonetheless, Mr.

Summers rearranges the box so that it holds only five slips for the Hutchinson family. The family comes forth, and each of them, Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson and their three children, select one of the five slips in the box. One by one, the children, then Mr. Hutchinson, reveal that their slips of paper are blank. The town realizes that Tess holds the remaining piece of paper with the black dot. Tessie is the only villager to protest against the lottery. When the Hutchinson family draws the marked paper, she exclaims, “It wasn’t fair! ” but instead of listening to her, the villagers ignore her.

Even Bill tells her to be quiet, but the refrain continues as she is selected and subsequently stoned to death by everyone, even her own children and husband, descend upon her. We don’t know whether Tessie would have protested the fairness of the lottery if her family had not been selected, but this is a moot point. Whatever her motivation is for speaking out, she is effectively silenced. The villagers start to collect stones, Mrs. Delacroix selecting one that is so large she can hardly carry it. To the reader, the entire process of the lottery is inherently unfair, unjust, and unthinkable.

Its ritual formally grounded in longtime tradition, not just in the town but elsewhere, does not mask the mindless evil of the act. The individual to be stoned to death is selected at random. There exists no rational cause or justification for singling out one person in the village to murder each year, though we do not know why the people do it or if they have any justifications for doing it. When Tess’s death is imminent she recognizes most of all the reader’s perspective as a matter of basic human nature to be concerned with random violence: “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (Jackson 219). By then, her fate has already been sealed.

Cite this A Review of Shirley Jackson’s Lottery

A Review of Shirley Jackson’s Lottery. (2016, Dec 25). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-review-of-shirley-jacksons-lottery/

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