• Madison White

A Story a Day #25: Shirley Jackson

March 2nd, 2020

"The Lottery"

Shirley Jackson

In what seems to be a farming village, the people gather for a yearly ritual called The Lottery. Each head of household draws a slip and it appears the Hutchinson family is chosen. The wife of Mr. Hutchinson becomes outraged saying that they rushed him and it wasn't fair. Then each member of that family, even the children, draw a slip. Finally, it is Tessie Hutchinson that is chosen. The rest of the village descend upon her with rocks.

To be perfectly candid, I have read this story before. Before starting this challenge, I heard someone on Twitter mention this story, and thinking it might be in my book, looked to see if it was. After, I promptly read it. I chose to read it again for this challenge because it is such a suspenseful, perfectly paced tale that deserves some commentary.

Throughout the entire story, there is no real answer to what the Lottery actually entails. Because people become more and more nervous as it goes on, it is clear that it is something bad instead of good, which directly contradicts the modern meaning of lottery. The story cleraly portrays the lives of the people of this town who seem to be hard working although fairly poor. Many know that this tradition has been around for a long time and are unsure of its origins, but are adament that they must do it to keep the peace. It is an expert in suspense as it keeps readers interested in what is actually going to happen when the outcome of the lottery is determined.

What is most peculiar about this story is how normal the rest of the details seem. This town could be any small town in middle America, just overlaid with a gruesome tradition. The entire setup seems very reminscient of The Hunger Games scene of similar stakes and I wonder if that story drew inspiration from this one. Nevertheless, this story is haunting and lasts in the psyche well beyond reading.

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