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Commentary on The Lottery Essay


Shirley Jacksons The Lottery describes a barbaric ritual that is known to turn stomachs. The topic of this short story is vulgar and strange. Jacksons story was written in 1943. This was during World War II and the holocaust. The most striking aspect of the story is the parallels it draws to Nazi Germany.

Although World War II started in 1939, the Nazis have controlled Germany since 1933, not long before Jackson wrote The Lottery. Hitler was able to convince the people to follow his beliefs of German Foreign policy through his wonderful ability to speak and through propaganda. Once people started to agree with his ideals, it only became easier to spread the word. Soon everyone followed his racist beliefs. Conformity was a way of life during that time. The Lottery also seems to include people conforming to a terrible tradition. Hitler had his people programmed and brainwashed by years of Nazi dogma into believing that Jewish people were responsible for Germany losing WWI. If a citizen didnt agree with the official government ideals, they were labeled as anti-social and were brutally killed just as the Jews, Gypsies and other non-conformists were. Although the people of the village were not brainwashed, they still believed in such a tradition because to them, it was right. Nazi Germany is an allusion to the story because everyone took part in an event that was obviously unethical and cruel.

In Jacksons story, Tessie Hutchinson was the lottery winner and when the crowd was ready to throw stones at her she said, It isnt fair (228). When Old Man Warner encouraged everyone to begin throwing their stones she again repeated, It isnt fair, it isnt right (229). This proves that the people know it isnt fair. The villagers had a better her than me type of attitude and because they werent the ones being stoned to death, they didnt mind doing the killing. This pertains to the Holocaust because it was very common for German families to turn in their own Jewish relatives because they would rather sacrifice their own family than get in trouble for hiding them. They also had a better them than me type of attitude.

When thinking of the conformity and groupthink of the holocaust, Hitler youth comes to mind. When children were old enough to go to school they were being taught to believe the values Hitler pounded into so many people. Growing up, that way of life was the only one they knew so the racism and discrimination is what seemed right to them, much like the custom practiced in Jacksons story. She writes, Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones (223). These were children picking out appealing stones to throw at a person they knew they were aiming to kill.

When Old Man Warner heard the people talking about other villages stopping the lottery he became very uneasy. He talked about the trouble in quitting the lottery and he said, Theres always been a lottery (226). He was the oldest man in town and has gone through so many lotteries that he is so used to the idea (222). Its almost as if giving up the lottery would throw off the society and cause problems. When people have traditions, they normally follow them. For example, people disagree with Halloween and call it the devils holiday but we will never rid our country of this much enjoyed tradition. When you are born believing something, it is very hard to rid yourself of it. This is why German children of WWII felt that it was okay to victimize certain people and it is also why the people of the village in The Lottery were okay with killing somebody because they drew a paper displaying an X.

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