A Horrific Depiction of Human Life in Shirley Jackson's “the Lottery" Essay

496 WordsApr 12, 20152 Pages
Niekoop Loraine Professor Jean English 1102 16 March 2015 A Horrific Depiction of Human Life in Shirley Jackson's “The Lottery" In today’s society when he or she hears the words “The Lottery,” winning a prize automatically comes to mind. However, Shirley Jackson, who dramatically characterizes her short story “The Lottery,” depicts a horrifying and sinister act of humanity. The point of the story is to have people think about what kinds of traditions they have in their everyday lives, that limit their actions and have consequences that they might not choose for themselves. Therefore, Jackson implies that her story speaks about deeply rooted cultural traditions as well as time coming to a screeching halt. “The Lottery,” exposes deep truths about cultural traditions. As cultural traditions are passed on from generation to generation, the true meaning often gets lost as time moves on. The townspeople come together once a year, and have the head of household represent each family member to see who will the unlucky name that will be pulled for this ritual. In Jackson’s story, the community’s “black box” where names are pulled from, is never updated (5), and the “chips of wood” replaces “slips of paper” (6). It is evident that the community has no idea why this tradition has continued and what it’s true purpose is. Despite these deadly cultural rituals, the community continues this grim tradition, absentminded of its cruelty and brutality. This is detectable within the conversations between spouses, and the fun the children are having. Within life's many dramatic ironies, it is evident that time plays a crucial role throughout the story. As Jackson points out, within a community of only "three hundred” (1), the story shows evidence that every member is well acquainted with one another. As time is supposed to continue moving forward within a community, a focus on
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