A Review of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

The lottery is a gambling game in which a prize is awarded to a number of players by chance. Lotteries are generally regulated by governments and are used to raise money for a variety of public uses. They are popular in the United States and have a long history in Europe, where they have been widely used as an alternative to income taxes. They have also been criticized for the problems of compulsive gamblers and for their regressive impact on lower-income groups.

Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery” illustrates how unquestioned adherence to tradition can lead to human suffering and oppression. It also prompts readers to analyze power dynamics within their own cultures and to question whether certain practices serve to marginalize or harm individuals.

The story begins with a bucolic small-town setting, in which the narrator describes a yearly lottery that will take place on June 27th of an unspecified year. Children who are on summer break begin to assemble in the town square, and adults soon follow, warmly greeting each other as they arrive. As the crowd grows, the narrator introduces Mr. Summers, the organizer of the lottery and master of ceremonies. He explains that the villagers have kept this tradition up for generations, following Old Man Warner’s saying: “Lottery in June, corn will be heavy soon.”

The narrator and the crowd then begin to sort themselves into families. The narrator identifies the members of each family who will be participating in the lottery and explains that, as a rule, no more than one member from a household is drawn.