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Commentary on The Lottery Essay


Black Dot

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, written in 1948, depict a small village of 300 people in which the villagers gather annually for a lottery. It has been a tradition of lottery in this village for many years and the villagers never brought up any questions. The readers must be thinking that the lottery is to win a prize or gift, but the truth is that the villagers draw to see who will get the black dot on their ticket and that person gets a death by stoning. Jackson use symbolism for the description of the characters, significant objects and the actions in the story are used to represent the death that is associated with the lottery.

The first allegorical use is seen through the description of the characters is that everything about villagers names are symbolic. For example, the names of the characters suggest a certain meaning. Mr. Summer's name suggests that he has become a man of leisure through his leadership. Also Mr. Graves' name is simply a foreshadow of the grave situation to come. The victim of the story, Tessie Hutchinson, resist against the lottery by screaming at the end of the story, "It isn't fair, it isn't right." The name Tessie can be associated with the word testy or tizzy, which means someone who is in an angry or rebellious state. The name Warner can be seen as a literal warning against ceasing the tradition of the lottery. All these name are related to each other and have negative meanings and has a negative impression.

The lottery enforces an unfair distinction in class status between men and women. Women are subordinate in the social structure of the village, as shown when Mrs. Hutchinson's family is chosen in the first round; she was objecting that her daughter and son-in-law didnt vote yet Make them take their chance! Mr. Summers reminds her that "daughters draw with their husbands' families," showing that power is exclusively held in the hands of males in families. Women, inferior housewives, must submit to their husbands' power. Men are linked to the community economically and provide for their families. Mrs. Hutchinson, however, rebels against socially accepted male domination. She raised suspicions of resistance by arriving late in the lottery. When her family name is called, she was acting rebelliously, ironically contradicting custom by reversing the accepted power relation between husbands and wives I tell you it wasnt fair. You didnt give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that. There is always a power of a men. Mr. Bill Hutchinson was telling everybody in his family what to do. He told his kids to draw and he helped little Dave to draw when this kid do not even know what is he doing. Mr. Bill and his kids all opened their tickets and got blank paper and the last ticket was in Mrs. Hutchinson hand Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper of her hand. It had a black dot on it.

This short story clearly about the Jacksons feelings concerning the evil nature of human beings which is hidden behind traditions and rituals. The tradition of stoning is unreasonable. Its just people they continue with the tradition of stoning because they dont want to break any tradition. Villager are sacrificing their lives for no reason; the good reason is the tradition. Even the story brought up once that some villages stopped doing lottery so they should stop doing that too but the Old Man Warner said Theres always been a lottery. Everybody is scared of death, who is not scared? When facing the possibility of death, human nature comes down to one instinctive urge, that of survival. Before the lottery was begun, the men were chatting and joking while watching their children. The women were also came after men and they greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossips as they went to join their husbands. Mrs. Hutchinson was the only one was at home and were doing the dishes and were hesitating to come to lottery. At that time nobody knew what was going to happen, but who were ignoring to come to lottery got a black dot and got stoned.

Jackson did a wonderful job writing this short story. It is not really looks like short story, and I could write a whole research paper on this story. It is so interesting and deep. Jackson wrote this story as the reader will keep thinking while reading that Mrs. Hutchinson will get some kind of prize, but when u get at the end then the reader gets shock of reading the part about stoning. Symbolism is the main key element that makes the story more interesting than it is. Men and women subordinated in the culture and men got more power. It tells about the human beings who are going on wrong path of stoning and following a tradition which is unreasonable. People just dont stood up and question. They are just sacrificing their lives for other and for old traditions. People who are suffering from old tradition can change their path by questioning and live better life with freedom of love and peace.

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