The Lottery Essay

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SUMMARY "The Lottery" caused major controversy when it was first published in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. Shirley Jackson's implicit critique of the brutality underlying the rituals and values of America's small towns outraged magazine readers, many of whom cancelled their subscriptions (see the Encyclopedia Britannica for more on the tale's publication history). As a side note – Jackson based "The Lottery" on her life in North Bennington, Vermont .Some of us here at Shmoop happen to be from that fine state, and we'd like to assure all potential tourists that despite what you may read in "The Lottery," you don't have to worry about sudden stoning in the Green Mountain State. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. The anonymous, generic village in which "The Lottery" is set, in addition to the vicious twist the story gives to a common American ritual, enhance the contemporary reader's uneasy sense that the group violence in the story could be taking place anywhere and everywhere, right now. On a warm day in late June (the 27th, to be exact), villagers gather in the square to participate in a lottery run by Mr. Summers, who officiates at all the big civic events. The children arrive first and begin collecting stones until their parents call them to order. Mrs. Hutchinson arrives late and chats briefly with her friend, Mrs. Delacroix. Mr. Summers, a local businessperson who seems to be in charge of the assembly, arrives, carrying a large black box. He is followed by the village postmaster, Mr. Graves, who carries a stool. Two men help Mr. Summers place the heavy box on the stool, and Mr. Summers begins to stir and shuffle the hundreds of slips of paper that are inside the box. Then, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves begin drawing up lists of families, including the head of each household and the names of all members of each family. The old and decrepit

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