The True Meaning That Hidden in a Short Story by Shirley Jackson, the Lottery
“The Lottery” (1948) is a short story written by American author Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson is best known for this short story which suggests a secret behind the annual event that has been done by the people in a village for years. The central theme of this story is a mysterious old black box that is used in the lottery drawing. I found that “The Lottery” is a story that actually brutal, scary, and horror but the author can under wrap the true meaning of the story until the last word.
This story takes place in a small nameless village on 27th June when the villagers begin to gather for the drawing of yearly lottery. The children innocently playing around collecting stones, the women are talking among themselves and the men have their own conversation. Mr. Summer who is the man in charge of the lottery arrives while carrying a black box and the mood of the story suddenly changes. The old black box contains pieces of paper that will be used to determine the winner.
After he makes sure everyone is already there, it begins.
Every head of household comes to the front to take a piece of paper then followed by his entire family, but they cannot open it yet. After everyone has their paper, they open it at once, the silent atmosphere suddenly change and become tenser as everyone ask who wins the lottery. It turns out that Mr. Hutchinson wins the lottery, but suddenly his wife Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson against the result and states that it’s not fair because they didn’t give his husband enough time to take the paper and asks to re-draw, Mr. Summer agrees and everyone in Hutchinson family draws again and reveals it one by one; Mrs.
Tessie is the last one to reveal her paper and everyone realizes that she wins the lottery. As she protests, the townspeople, even her family surrounds her and stones her to death. At first, when I found this story, I was interested by the title of this story. At first I felt that this story is a please story instead of horror and scary. When I read the title “The Lottery” the first thing that came to my mind was winning a big prize of money or valuable things, but actually in this story, the prize of winning the lottery is to stone to death by the villagers.
In my opinion, this is the most attractive part of the story, because from the first paragraph I don’t find the story will end like this, it describes with a good atmosphere like the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green, the author manages to hide the true purpose of the lottery until the end of story. In addition, the acts of villagers are also described as normal activities, so I feel that this story is so interesting because I don’t expect the end of this story will be like this.
At the other hand, I think that this story is brutal instead of scary and horror, because in my opinion, this annual event which holds every year is not make sense, every year they draw the lottery just to stone someone to death, even their own family, whereas the other village is not doing this tradition anymore. I found out that their reason of this is because of their believe if they sacrifice one of their villagers they will get good crops and enough rain until next year, otherwise if they don’t do it they will get into trouble, thus I think it is quite ridiculous.
In conclusion, I also think “The Lottery” is not only brutal, but also ironic. The word lottery suggests that they are going to draw for a nice prize; however the winner will not get any precious prize, but to stone to death and unfortunately death is not a prize. So I think that the author seems want to show the reader how the violence occurs in general inhumanity lives by this short story.
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