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Shirley Jackson's The Lottery is a memorable and terrifying masterpiece fueled by a tension that creeps up on you slowly without any clear indication of why This is just a townful of people after all choosing their numbers for the annual lottery What's there to be scared of?

10 thoughts on “The Lottery

  1. says:

    Science Imitating ArtJackson’s story was published in 1948 At the time and since it has been praised as insightful and criticised as obscure But almost 20 years later the French philosopher Rene Girard produced a theory which has a remarkable congruence with its theme and I think provides the best explanation of what Jackson was getting at in The LotteryGirard argued that our individual desires are never the product of some inner longing but always rather of the imitation of others We want what other people want This he called ‘mimetic desire’ and Girard went on to explore the implications of this insight for the next half centuryMimetic desire according to Girard has a predictable trajectory that is familiar to advertising executives around the world One person wants what another has just because the other has it This attracts the desire of others in a sort of exponential wave of wanting But widespread wanting of anything means first a shortage of that commodity and conseuently the mutual antagonism of all those who share the same desire Girard’s contention is that this incipient hostility threatens to create a sort of Hobbesian world a non society in which no cooperative or coordinated action including effective government can be establishedHuman beings Girard believed deal with this situation unconsciously and instinctively by the mechanism of ‘scape goating’ through which a group identifies one of its own members as the cause of its mimetic tension This individual is both sacred and an object of communal hatred The elimination of this individual is therefore not just necessary for the welfare of the community but also forms the basis of religious practice in which the role of the scape goat is transformed into a noble dutyGirard goes even further in his later work to claim that the ritual establishment of the scape goat is the most primitive form of representation and conseuently of language that human beings have demonstrated In a sense the essential foundation for human power in the world is religious violence which victimizes random members or groups in modern societyWhether or not one agrees with Girard’s anthropology and there is a substantial body of evidence to recommend it his literary usefulness is demonstrated by the application of his theory to The Lottery The theory explains among other things the liturgical character of the story; its origins in a distant past; its particular relevance to a relatively isolated agricultural community; and its connection to a paternalistic hierarchy whose continued existence depends on the ritual As far as I am aware Girard did not read The Lottery; but since he was in America at the time he might have done In any case it is certainly remarkable that an author of fiction like Jackson could have written such a tight short story which captures so much of subseuent academic work Thus demonstrating if demonstration were needed the tremendous importance of fiction to cultural lifeFor an introduction to Girard’s work see

  2. says:

    I read this for my English class at CEGEP and started a reuired essay on it It seriously made me think of The Hunger Games at first but now I'm focused on another message how blindly people in society can follow certain rulestraditionsrituals without uestioning them I love how unprecise the setting is making us realize that it is something that can happen anywhere and adds a feeling of timelessness to the story The characters are boring but I like how Tessie has something to say about what is happening in the end even though it's too unfortunate it had to come to the ''you have to live it to understand it'' situation for her to speak up and defend herself

  3. says:

    This short story is my second classic short story this year and was first published in 1948 yet the story it told is timeless It is also horrificThe story begins in a happy cheerful day late in June the 27th which is traditionally the day for the Lottery This tradition has been going on annually for many years – even the oldest citizen in the town recalls that it had been occurring since before he could rememberAlthough some people are talking about other nearby towns that no longer have the Lottery the majority in this village seem to be traditionalists who feel that all kinds of bad things – including crop failures – would occur if they no longer held itThis was all very interesting and then one woman starts to speak out strongly against the process when her husband holds the winning ticket From there each family member draws a new ticket and only one of them has a mark on itFrom bright to dark to darker and darkestFor me this story stands out as a caution; of what can happen when people blindly follow along with an idea or concept because it has always been done that way It may be called duty or responsibility but it can also be called cowardice and going with the flow because it is the path of least resistance It can also be called ignorance because no one is giving thought to conseuences nor how they would feel if they were the ultimate “winner”This is not an enjoyable read but for sheer power in the writing and the many thoughts and feelings it evokes it definitely deserves 5 Stars

  4. says:

    The Lottery Shirley JacksonThe Lottery is a short story by Shirley Jackson written mere months before its first publication in the June 26 1948 issue of The NewYorker The story describes a fictional small town which observes an annual ritual known as the lotteryعنوانها قرعه کشی؛ بخت آزمایی، لاتاری، نویسنده شرلی جکسون، تاریخ نخستین خوانش بیست و پنجم ماه جولای سال 2015 میلادیعنوان قرعه کشی؛ نویسنده شرلی جکسون، مترجم احمد گلشیری؛ در 15 صعنوان بخت آزمایی، ترجمه و نقد فاطمه فولادی و مریم خردمند، گلستانه، 1388عنوان لاتاری، ترجمه فرزاد ابرقویی، تهران، غنچه، 1393، در 17 ص، شابک 9786007721056؛لاتاری داستان دهکده‌ ای است، که هر سال در روز بیست و هفم از ماه ژوئن، مردمان دهکده، دور هم گرد آمده، و آیین قربانی کردن کسی را انجام می‌دهند قربانی با لاتاری قرعه‌ کشی انتخاب می‌شود ا شربیانی

  5. says:

    A classic of stoic gothic horror yet with a twist that leaves the reader thinking Like any great short story this demonstrates the power of that medium by brutal efficiency Subtle but the Lottery also reveals Jackson's talent for characterizationA chilling allegory there is value in tradition but beware blind faith

  6. says:

    I really don't have much to say about this I liked that the majority of this little story was so simple and normal therefore making the end that much shocking I does have a lot of impact like the children picking out the stones at the beginning and then when he says let's get it over with uick and they all rush to the stones that brought the emotion intended in such a simple storyBut at the same time what I love about classics like this is the discussion that they invoke And I just don't have a lot to say about this one I agree that just because a tradition is in place doesn't mean we should mindlessly follow it But it's kind of a simple discussion so I don't feel compelled to discuss it for very long which leaves me feeling kinda middle of the road about it I can see myself bringing this up in a conversation someday if someone is arguing that's just the way it is as a reminder that there needs to be sound reasoning behind things and just because we've always done it this way isn't good enough So I appreciate it for that reason I liked it but I just don't have that strong of feelings toward it

  7. says:

    This seemingly innocuous short story wafted into my consciousness with a halcyon pastoral scene an English village on a summer's day suffused with the scent of blossoming flowers and fresh cut grass I could almost taste the cucumber sandwiches and the jam sconesBut there is a sub level to the seemingly twee storyline An allegory stealthily unfolds that immediately put me in mind of The Lord of the FliesShirley Jackson's fictitious village like the island in William Golding's book seems to serve as a microcosm of lifeHer prose is crisp; the piece is very well written and view spoilerI didn't anticipate the dystopian style ending hide spoiler

  8. says:

    OK so when I chose to read this story I knew it was going to be 1984 level I expected something twisted and sick But I was surprised by how twisted and sick it really was I’m not going to talk about characters or style these things don’t matter Anyone with some talent could have written it even though I loved how normal it all seemed until the end it fooled me big time Nah it’s only about the the message And for the message alone it deserves 5 stars

  9. says:

    A short story with a nasty sting that leaves you uestioning human nature I also note now that this is review #666 Like Ursula Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas which I reviewed HERE it opens idyllically“ The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny with the fresh warmth of a full summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green The people of the village began to gather” in this case for the annual public lottery And like Omelas there is vague foreshadowing of some darker taboo universally known but reluctantly accepted What little challenge there is is uickly uashed The power of crowds consensus community or mob?What made this especially unsettling is that unlike Omelas there is no reason given beyond that of tradition The participants don’t know or remember And for readers there are no clues of time past or future? or culture is religion or political regime a factor? or place We like to think we’re good people who would only do cruel things in extremis when there is no alternative Jackson’s story suggests the threshold may be much lower if the rightwrong environment is set up This was published shortly after WW2 Perhaps she was wondering how previously ordinary people came to commit atrocities See also Kafka's short story In the Penal Colony which I reviewed HERE Another outsider like the narrator here observing strange and disturbing local customs You can read the story here

  10. says:

    What can I possibly even say about this story? I went on a Twitter deep dive because I am in a reading slump I decided to Twitter search the reactions to one of the New Yorker's most famous short stories Cat Person In so doing I found the story that wagged tongues to that extent before The reason for that was because back in 1948 and I guess the years bracketing that The New Yorker published stories without showing whether they were fact or fiction And my isn't that an effective way to rouse the indignation of the middle class Before Cat Person this was the story that created the most hubbub and according to thoughtcocom It has been adapted for radio theater television and even ballet The Simpsons television show included a reference to the story in its Dog of Death episode season threeThe Lottery is a story set in a small town in America If that isn't enough to set your heart to dread have you never seen any Hollywood horror movie? Everything happens in those small towns Jackson herself said I wrote this to shock the story's readers with a graphic demonstration of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives Well then Ms Jackson mission accomplished You can read it here PPS The day this story is set June 27 is my born day I'm rightfully spooked af