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Commentary on The Lottery Essay


The Lottery

The Lottery takes place in a small village, where the people are close and tradition is kept alive. An event called the lottery, is one in which one person in the town is randomly chosen to be stoned by family and friends. The drawing has been around over seventy-seven years and is practiced by every member of the town. The lottery was a welcomed, festive event. It is not until the very end of the story that the reader learns of the winner's fate.

It seems that Jackson is making a statement regarding human evil. The lottery is in a town, where everyone knows everyone. Families carry very ordinary names. Jackson's portrayal of extreme evil in this story suggests that people are not always as they seem. Jackson implies that underneath one's self, there may be pure evil. Jackson does in fact foreshadow the idea through Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves. Mr. Summers is the man in charge of the lottery. He prepares the slips of paper to be drawn and he mediates the activity. He is described as a respected man, joking around with the villagers and carrying on this event with no conscience at all. The name Summers identifies the mood of the short story as well as the administrator himself. Mr. Summers is the man that is representative of the lottery, as his name symbolizes the up front, apparent, tone of the event. Mr. Graves, on the other hand, symbolizes the story's underlying theme and final outcome. Mr. Graves is Mr. Summer's assistant, always present but not necessarily in the spotlight. The threat of his name and character foreshadows the wickedness of the ordinary people, that again, is always present but not in the spotlight.

The Lottery presents a weakness in human individuals. This town, having performed such a terrible act for so many years, continues on with the lottery, with no objections or questions asked, and the main purpose being to carry on the tradition. However, the villagers show some anxiety toward the event. Yet everyone still goes along with it. Not a single person expresses fear toward the lottery, but instead shows enthusiasm. Jackson may be suggesting that many individuals are not strong enough to confront their disapproval, for fear of being rejected by society. Instead they continue to sacrifice their happiness, for the sake of others. The failure of Mr. Summers to replace the black box used for the drawing symbolizes the villagers' failure to stand up for their beliefs.

Jackson uses the protagonist, Mrs. Hutchinson, to show an individual consumed by hypocrisy and weakness. Though it is hinted that she attempted to rebel and not show up to the event. It is ironic that she, who almost stood up for her beliefs, is the one who wins the lottery, and is fated to be stoned. What is perhaps the most disturbing about Mrs. Hutchinson, however, is her sudden unleashing of her true self. Before the drawing she is friendly with the other women, pretending to be pleased to be present. However, Mrs. Hutchinson continues to scream about the unfairness of the ritual up until her stoning. Mrs. Hutchinson knew the lottery was wrong, but she never did anything about it. She pretends as much as she could to enjoy it, when she truly hated it all along. Perhaps Jackson is implying that the more artificial and the more hypocritical one is, the more of a target they are. Mrs. Hutchinson was clearly the target of her fears.

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