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The Lottery

Material prepared/collated from other teachers by Avraham Roos.


Table of contents

The Text

Suggestions on How to Utilize The Lottery Questions, Vocabulary, Cloze
Lesson plans by Barbara Doron Activities from Sharon Nussbacher
Cue Cards Internet Sites

 

Suggestion on How to Utilize


THE LOTTERY

BY SHIRLEY JACKSON

I generally teach it to my 10th grade native speakers. First we start with a discussion on personal codes. I give them 3 case studies of kids who were involved with the law...petty theft, reckless driving, and cheating. In groups we discuss the fairness of the punishments. Then they write their views on this. Then we talk about the codes or laws that govern a society and how they relate to our own personal codes of right and wrong. ( Now that I think about it, this could be related to excerpts from Animal Farm.)Then we read the story. I love watching their reactions to the end. After discussing the story, they can write a letter as if they were Bill Hutchinson to Mr. Summers, telling him that a change in the tradition is needed.

Iris Mandel

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Lottery is the best, but try to find a short film adaptation --maybe the American Embassy library will have it. I studied the story and saw the film in high school and it's one of those experiences you never forget.

Good luck!
Evan Fallenberg

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

I've taught "The Lottery", and, in contrast to all my expectations, Israeli students (or at least the 5 pointers I have taught) find it ridiculous and boring rather than horrifying. It is true however, that I did not do any 'mind-set' preparation before having them read it. I'm doing it again this coming year, but with pre-reading discussion and then I'll be wiser.

In general, there are a number of points that need discussing with the class in order to prevent their dismissing the story as some kind of 'goyish' nonsense. (not necessarily in the order below)
a- The 'tribal' nature of any small community.
b- The need that all human beings have to feel in 'control' of what they
perceive to be an essentially hostile environment (universe).
c- The concepts of magic and superstition and their place in society.
d- The concept that it can be acceptable to require the individual to
sacrifice for the greater good.
e- 'stoning' as a method of sacrifice (punishment, etc..)
f- Man's ability (and need) to rationalise generally unacceptable actions.

All of the above can be easily connected to our own society. Choose whatever examples you think work. If nothing else, the discussion should be very lively.

By the way, there is a film which is very loosely based onthe story which might be useful.

Stephen Byk
_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Before I tell you what I did with my class, it's important to know that this class had been with me the previous year and was "trained" (hate that word!) to observe many different elements in a short story. For example, they knew to pay attention to names, relatively lengthy descriptions (such as weather), vocabulary, and the like.

Anyway, I first put the word, "lottery" on the board and asked them to free associate/brain storm. You will usually get only positive associations. I asked them to try to predict what this story could be about. Then I read part of the story to them- about half of it. (I always read literature, articles, etc. to my classes.) We spoke about whatever they
wanted in connection to the story. One of my students said that she felt tension among all this peaceful description of nature... I didn't let on to the strange twist.

The next lesson, I read the rest to them. You could see where this leads you- let them lead the way- if they can't, you could bring up examples of people, groups, and so on, that cling onto traditions, or beliefs and/or are extremists... even when their belief, etc, is illogical, no longer relevant, or whatever.

There are, by the way, so many directions you could go with this story- peer pressure- the power of a mob, some people's weakness with "getting into the act" etc.

Linda Mizrahi

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

You have to choose you class very carefully and they have to trust you that they are reading something that is really good so that they can get through it. It appears in Modern Short Stories, Collier publ. and there are good questions at the end. Good luck.

Maida Nechushtan, Ort Afula and English Inspectorate

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

We spent some time discussing the "blind faith" aspect. I approached the issue as the AUTHOR'S view towards
faith and tradition. We concluded that Shirley Jackson did not respect blind faith; she probably considered tradition, faith, and religion barbaric; and in her story she was making a very negative comment about religion in general. The issue was not difficult to present (or accept) since we didn't discuss whether we agreed, rather we analyzed the
author's point of view.

Sharon Nussbacher Note: Don't miss Sharon's worksheets and tests!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I HAVE USED IT A NUMBER OF TIMES, FOR "CULTURAL RELATIVITY" AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL EXPLORATION. AFTER ALL, THIS WAS A RITE, HOWEVER DASTARDLY THE OUTCOMES. SHIRLEY JACKSON WAS JEWISH --DID YOU KNOW?

VALERIE S. JAKAR, PHD.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I have found that the most effective way of teaching the story is by
giving some background material on "small town life in the U.S." and
then reading it in class, in two sessions to increase the tension.
(Often, pupils finish it on their own.)

Barbara Doron Note: Don't miss Barbara's excellent lesson plans and worksheets!


Lesson plans by Barbara Doron.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson


Lesson One

1. a. Large Cue Card on blackboard with Blue-tac: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
         Setting- Small American town, at the end of June. (See Here)
    b. Discuss the meaning of the word “lottery”.

Discuss the end of June (and the end of the school year) in the North of the U.S.- (i.e. In many parts of the United States, spring rather than summer [note that the women in the story wear sweaters], cultural connotations: small town life in U.S.- everyone knows everyone, personal experiences as a pupil at the end of the school year).

2. Give two selected passages from the story (see here). Pupils read passages individually, try to make predictions about the story and, in the end, try to guess what the prize of the Lottery might be.

3. Give out vocabulary lists (see here). Go over words and phrases. Fill in exercise (see here).


Lesson Two

1. a. Vocabulary review. Cue Cards on blackboard with words and phrases written largely enough so that pupils can read. Teacher gives definitions. (“Find a word which means...”) (see here) Pupils shout words.

b. Game. Pupils are given pages with words scattered over the page in no particular order. (see here) Teacher asks pupils to circle two words. The winner of the game is the pupil who finishes the game without having circled words crossed out. (There is almost never a winner) Teacher gives definitions, pupils must cross out words which teacher defines. Teacher leaves two words undefined at the end of the game.

2. Cue Cards on blackboard - (see here)

Present- Officials of the Lottery: Mr. Summers, Mr. Graves

Paraphernalia: a shabby old black box, slips of paper, one with an “X” on it.

Ritual: Swearing in of the official, official must speak to each person
 

Past- Paraphernalia: Older black box, chips of wood, one with an “X” marked on it.

Ritual: A recital or some official chant, the official had to walk among the people (?)

Go over information.

3. Teacher begins reading story. Up to “Everything clear?...” (No discussion after reading to maintain tension.)

4. Students put stories away. Cloze- Opening paragraphs (see here)


Lesson Three


1. Reminder of previous lesson, calling attention to significant points. Done as a competition- Teacher against class- “Can you, as a class, identify all of the circled words?”

Cue Cards (Put up on blackboard with Blue-tac- Pupils jot down answers on scrap paper): What do the following words refer to? (see here)

a. (It) could begin at 10 o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow (them) to get home for noon dinner.

b. (They) began to gather, surveying their own children speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes.

c. (They) came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times.

d. (He) was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business.

e. The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying (?)...

f. (It) had been lost long ago.

g. (It) had been made with some pieces of the one that had been constructed when the people settled down to make a village here.

h. Because so much of (it) had been forgotten, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for chips of wood.

i. (He) used to stand just so when he said or sang (it).

j. Now I’ll read (them) and the men come up and take a paper out of the box.

2. Read up to “Bill Hutchinson’s got it...” Ask for revised ideas about what the winner of the lottery receives. No other discussion.

3. Vocabulary- Teacher shows word strips with words written backwards and gives hints. Pupils shout words.

Vocabulary Worksheet- Practice in dealing with dictionary definitions. Match the definition to its word. Work in pairs to save time (see here).



Lesson Four


1. The Lottery- Trivia

Class divided into two or three groups. Must identify the following.
 

*Who wrote the Lottery?

*June 27

*classroom, teacher, books and reprimands

*planting and rain, tractors and taxes

*faded house dresses and sweaters

*Mr. Summers

*coal business

*Lottery in June... 

*Mr. Graves

*original paraphernalia for the lottery

*chips of wood

*lists to be made

*a ritual salute

*a tuneless chant

*Mrs. Hutchinson

*a grown boy to do it

*alphabetical order

*living in caves and eating stewed chickweed

 

2. Guess meanings of the underlined words: Cue Cards- (see here) Pupil writes his guess on scrap paper. Answers at the end of the exercise.

a. The black box was splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color.

b. There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open.

c. Part of the original ritual had been allowed to lapse.

d. Mr. Summers seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins.

e. Mr. Adams went hastily back to his place in the crowd, where he stoa little apart from his family.

f. Mrs. Dunbar greeted Mr. Summers gravely and selected a slip of paper from the box.

3. Complete the story (without comment).

Homework: Think about what the story is talking about.


Lesson Five


A. In small groups or pairs- Using the story

1. How many details can you give regarding preparation for the lottery?

2. How many details can you give illustrating how the author hints at what is going to occur?

3. How many details can you give regarding the paraphernalia used in the lottery?

4. Why, according to the story, is the lottery carried on?

5. “The Lottery” is obviously not a realistic story. So, what points are being made?

B. Class discussion

Preparation

*Preparing of paraphernalia for the lottery the night before. Lists of heads of families made.

*Children assemble first and make a great pile of stones.

*Families gather in the town square and stand together.

*Mr. Summers arrives in the square, carrying the black wooden box. Mr. Graves follows carrying three-legged stool.

*Formal ceremony. Swearing in of the official of the lottery. Names called out in alphabetical order. (Males are the representatives of the families, unless there is no choice)

*Heads of households. Heads of families. Members of families.

Paraphernalia

*Black box-very old. Made even before the time of Old Man Warner, the oldest member of the community. Made with a piece of the box which had preceded it.

*Slips of paper.

*Much of the ritual forgotten or discarded : Swearing in remains, but once there had been a ritual salute. Now it was only important to speak to each person.

Reason for the lottery: “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.”

What is “The Lottery” about?

The lottery is kind of religious ritual based on carrying out an act which will please the gods so that the agricultural year will be fruitful. There have been real traditions of human sacrifice in our past.

a. Technically:

Dramatic build-up. Slowly but surely, the feeling is developed that something threatening will happen.

Details which seem unimportant but which take on significance by the end of the story.

Use of stones- From the beginning, the author gives us all the information, but the reader is still horrified in the end.

b. The story illustrates how difficult it is to give up a tradition, even if it operates against the concepts of Western morality. Examples: Drinking the “blood” of Christ. Shooting guns as a sign of respect on Memorial Day.

c. The story shows how unquestioning we are. We keep on routinely doing things which we know are wrong. (Physical fighting, smoking,....)

d. The human need for a scapegoat. In every day life, we are always trying to find someone who is responsible. (endless Investigation Commissions)

e. How delicate family loyalties are. One of our hidden qualities and one which we are most ashamed of- When something horrible happens, our first emotion is often relief that it hasn’t happened to us.

f. How really brutal human beings are. We are shocked at the brutal killing of one person. But we kill millions for unclear reasons and justifications.

(The war in Viet Nam, Dropping the atomic bomb on the Japanese. And, of course, the Holocaust. By the way, Shirley Jackson once answered that The Lottery was written under the influence of the Holocaust.

3. Question sheet (See Lottery8) given out. Class is told to prepare answers to questions for test. Teacher will circle seven (different) questions for each pupil. (Each pupil will have a different test.) Answers must include all relevant information.

After tests are marked, any pupil will be able to improve his mark by taking the test as many times as he wants, answering a “random” seven questions from the list.

4. Vocabulary Wind-up

Teacher gives vocabulary in the contest of a simple sentence.

Pupil writes meaning in Hebrew. At the end of the exercise, teacher calls out a number and the name of a pupil. Using their lists of Hebrew words, pupil must give English word.


Questions, Vocabulary, Cloze


The Lottery

Read the following sections from the story and answer the questions.

The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th, but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.

Who participates in the lottery?

Answer:

What do you think the atmosphere is on the day of the lottery, according to the first paragraph of the story?

Answer:
 
 

Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed. The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands. Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times.

What other details do you learn about the town from this paragraph?

Answer:
 
 

Guess what the possible prize for the Lottery could be if it is held in all of the neighboring towns.

My guess is:


THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson
 

out of date

lose your temper

shabby

inevitable

a breakthrough

a slip of paper

paraphernalia

out of order

swear in

keep it up

make do with

fade
 
 

 

out of order

a stain

liberty

a breeze

assemble

fill in for

enthusiasm

reluctantly

to stuff

get on with

give ---- a hand

exploitation

PREPOSITIONS

1. 7. 13.

2. 8. 14.

3. 9. 15.

4. 10. 16.

5. 11. 17.

6. 12. 18.


The Lottery- Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks in the sentences with the following words or expressions: out of date, lost his temper, shabby, inevitable, a breakthrough, reprimand, a slip, paraphernalia, out of order, stain, liberty, a breeze, assembled, fill in for, enthusiasm, reluctantly, swears in, keep it up, make do with, fade, stuffed, get on with, give him a hand, exploitation.

1. The computer is ___________________ and we won’t be able to use it.

2. I wrote his phone number on __________________ of paper and now I can’t find it.

3. He __________________ and began to shout at the class.

4. He never loses his optimism, and does everything with _________________.

5. __________________ of the rain forests has contributed to global warming.

6. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court _________________ the new President of the United States.

7. He ________________ his bag full of food, for the two day trip.

8. We have all of the ____________________ necessary to build a stage for the play.

9. His clothes were _________________ and he was ashamed of his poverty.

10. A Palestinian state seems __________________ to a large percentage of the Israeli population.

11. Records have become ____________________ and only disks are sold these days.

12. The crowd ___________________ quietly and waited for the President to begin his speech.

13. We don’t have a telephone and we have to ___________________ the public telephone on the corner.


THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson

out of date out of order a slip of paper

lose your temper a stain liberty

shabby inevitable a breakthrough assemble

a breeze paraphernalia swear in make do with

keep it up fade reprimand enthusiasm

exploitation give ... a hand to stuff assemble

fill in for get on with reluctantly


THE LOTTERY- CLOZE

I.

The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, ____________________ the post office and the bank, ________________ ten o’clock; in some towns there ______________________ so many people that the lottery took two days and had to ____________________ started on June 26th, _____________________ in this village, ______________________ there were only about three hundred people, the _______________________ took less ____________________ two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be ___________________ in time for noon dinner.

The children assembled first, of _____________________. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of ____________________; they tended to gather together quietly for a ____________________________ before they broke into boisterous play, and their talk ______________________ still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands.

II.

Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, __________________ of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stoodtogether, away _______________ the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes _________________ quiet and they smiled _______________ than laughed. The women, _____________________ faded house dresses and sweaters came shortly ___________________ their menfolk. They greeted one ________________ and exchanged bits ________________ gossip as they went to _________________ their husbands.


THE LOTTERY by S. Jackson

Match the word and its definition.
 

1. in bad repair or condition, poorly dressed. _____

2. unavoidable, certain to happen _____

3. numerous small possessions, tools, instruments _____

4. strong feeling of admiration or interest _____

5. fill tightly with, press tightly into, fill the carcass of an animal _____

6. gather together, collect, fit or put together ______

7. cause someone to take the oath of office ______

8. express disapproval (to a person) severely and officially _____

9. cause to lose color, freshness or strength, go slowly out of view _____

10. state of being free, right, or power to decide for oneself what to do

11. slow to act because unwilling to _____

12. take the place of, substitute for _____

13. manage with something although it may not be really adequate or satisfactory _____

14. a small piece of paper ______

15. selfish use for profit _____

16. make dirty, discolored or stained _____

a. exploitation
 

b. fill in for
 

c. assemble
 

d. enthusiasm
 

e. a slip of paper
 

f. paraphernalia
 

g. reluctantly
 

h. shabby
 

i. fade
 

j. reprimand
 

k. liberty
 

l. stuff
 

m. stain
 

n. swear in
 

o. make do with
 

p. inevitable


Questions- The Lottery

1. When does the lottery take place?

2. Where does the lottery take place? Describe the setting.

3. How does the author, Shirley Jackson, foreshadow what is to come?

4. What can you say about the people of the town?

5. What paraphernalia is used to conduct the lottery and what attempts are made to keep the traditional ceremony?

6. What role does Old Man Warner play?

7. The lottery is carried on by Mr. Summers, who owns the coal company, and Mr. Graves, the postmaster. What do the names and the objects hint at?

8. Usually a lottery is something good. When do you begin to suspect that, in this case, no one wants to “win” the lottery?

9. How does the author build tension?

10. What is the “procedure” of the lottery?

11. What is the reaction of Old Man Warner to the fact that in the north village “they’re talking of giving up the lottery”?

12. What does the saying “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” hint at?

13. What does the story imply about traditions and ceremonies? Support your opinion from the story.

14. What does the story imply about religion? Support your opinion from the story.

15. What does the story imply about family loyalties? Support your opinion from the story.

16. What does the story imply about human nature? Support your opinion from the story.



 

Cue Cards

Cue cards A:


The Lottery

By

Shirley Jackson

Setting:

A small American town at the end of June


Cue cards B:


Enthusiasm reluctantly

Stuffed

Get on with

A break through

A slip of paper

Paraphernalia

Out of order

Swear in

Keep it up

Make do with

Fade

A stain

Liberty A breeze

Assembly

fill in for

out of date

lose your temper

shabby

inevitable

give ~ a hand

exploitation


Cue cards C:


PRESENT: Officials of the lottery:

Mr. Summers

Mr. Graves

Paraphernalia: a shabby old black box, slips of paper, one with an "X" on it.

Ritual: Swearing in of the official. Official must speak to each person.

PAST: Paraphernalia: Older black box, chips of wood. Ritual: A recital or some official chant. The official had to walk among the people (?)


Cue cards D:
  1. It could begin at 10 o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow them to get home in time for noon dinner.
  2. They began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes.
  3. They came reluctantly, having to be called 4 or 5 times
  4. He was a round- faced jovial man and he ran the coal bussiness
  5. The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying it.
  6. It had been lost long ago.
  7. It had been made with some pieces of the one that had been constructed when the people settled down to make a village here.
  8. Because so much of it had been forgotten, Mr. Summers had been succesful in having slips of paper substituted for the wood chips.
  9. He used to stand just so when he said or sang it.
  10. Now I'll read them and the men come up and take a paper out of....


Cue Cards E:

a) The black box was splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color.

b) There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared…

c) Part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse.

d) He seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins.

e) Mr. Adams went hastily back to his place in the crowd, where he stood a little apart from his family.

f) Mrs. Dunbar greeted Mr. Summers gravely and selected a slip of paper from the box.



 

Activities By: Sharon Nussbacher

Name _______________________________

The Lottery

by Shirley Jackson

Vocabulary

beamed smiled very happily

boisterous noisy and active

clung held tightly

daintily delicately, in a lady-like fashion

lapse end without being renewed

lottery a contest in which tickets are distributed or sold; the winning ticket or

tickets are selected in a chance drawing

paraphernalia equipment

petulantly with unreasonable irritation


Name _______________________________
 
 

The Lottery

by Shirley Jackson

By: Sharon Nussbacher

Comprehension Questions

Answer any 8 questions.

1. In the third paragraph, what suggests that the lottery is a serious event?

2. Who helps Mr. Summers set up the lottery? Why are the villagers reluctant to help?

3. What paraphernalia is needed the lottery? How big do you suppose the black box is?

4. What do Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves do the night before the lottery?

5. What are the rules concerning people who can’t attend the lottery?

6. What signs are there of the people’s nervousness during the drawing?

7. What arguments does Old Man Warner present for keeping the lottery?

8. Normally someone "wins" a lottery, but that word is never used in the story.
What expression is used instead?

9. A lottery winner is generally very pleased with his luck. How does Bill Hutchinson react when he "gets it"? What is Tessie’s reaction? Is her accusation fair?

10. What phrases suggest Mrs. Hutchinson’s extreme apprehension- and her efforts to keep it under control?

11. In what order are the papers opened? How does the crowd react as each is revealed?

12. What is the final step of the lottery? Who participates?


Essay Questions

Answer two of the following essay questions. Make sure that your answers are clear, and that the spelling and grammar is correct.

1. Of course such lotteries have never existed. Therefore the story must be
presenting some sort of message. For example, it might be a satire of
religious rituals in modern times. Or it may be a commentary on the fragility
of family loyalties. What other possibilities occur to you? Which can be
best supported by evidence within the text?

2. The lottery is run by two men named Graves and Summers. What
significance can you see in the choice of names? Do any other names in
the story have interesting connotations?

3. Trace the changes in Tessie Hutchinson’s attitude in the course of the
story. What do these changes suggest about a possible theme for the
story?

4. The story is full of details about small-town life, for example, the children’s
play before the lottery begins. What other details suggest a peaceful rural
setting? Describe the contrast between the setting and characters and the
plot.


By: Sharon Nussbacher

Name _______________________________

LITERATURE TEST

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

By: Sharon Nussbacher

This test consists of two questions. Each is worth 50 points.

Each question must have 5 answers. Every answer or example you present will be worth 10 points. Points will be deducted if you do not answer in complete sentences, if you have spelling mistakes, if you have grammatical errors, or if you do not use proper punctuation. You may refer to the text.

Irony is used when the author contrasts what is said or described with what is really meant. In The Lottery we have an example of an ironic situation.

1. How does the author increase the horror of the story by using irony? How does she fool the reader?

2. What hints does the author give us that all is not what it appears to be?
 

Good Luck


Internet Sites


Dear ETNI teachers,

The following is information I collected from various Internet sites. If you need more, I advise you to do your own search for "Shirley Jackson The Lottery".

Shirley Jackson (aka Mrs. Stanley Hyman)

( 1916-1965 )

" The number of people who expected Mrs Hutchinson to win a Bendix washer would amaze you." (Shirley Jackson)

Complete text Lottery: http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/lottery.html

Information about Shirley Jackson: http://www.kutztown.edu/~reagan/jackson.html

http://www.researchpaper.com/forums/English_and_Literature/messages/1553.html

http://www.redbay.com/dazzler/rrr/sjackson.htm

The Lottery is a story of mediaeval customs and how misplaced they are within modern society. The story opens with the entire population of the small town gathering in the town square in preparation for the lottery. Once all the townspeople arrived the lottery was begun with the drawing of slips of paper. The winner of the lottery turns out to be Mrs. Hutchinson, a wife and mother to five children. The story closes with her being stoned by her neighbors and friends. The main object of The Lottery is the action of the lottery itself and perhaps the slips of paper. The actions that make the story are all connected to the preparation for, drawing of, and consequences of the lottery. Mr. Summers treats the lottery with cold precision as if this duty was as normal as all the other duties he performs for the town. The townspeople respect the lottery and actually appear to fear it ever so slightly. Mrs. Hutchinson when faced with the possibility of winning the drawing panics and tries everything she can think of to decrease her chance of winning or avoiding it altogether. Mrs. Hutchinson is the main female character of the story and is probably the strongest example of a weak, powerless, scared woman in all the stories we reviewed. She is the last to show for the drawing, she disputes the results of both drawings once completed, and she makes every attempt to lower her chance of winning by drawing her married daughters into her familie's drawing. Mrs. Hutchinson shows a complete lack of inner strength and reveals her cowardice and uncaring relationship as shown in her actions. The underlying current of evil would have to be the actual barbarism inherent in the lottery itself. The idea of stoning a person to death for any reason in our society is cruel and unusual punishment and sickening to most. The fact that the stoning is not for any crime but for tradition makes it all that more unpalatable. The apparent disdain expressed by the villagers is also quite disturbing in that they treat the lottery as a normal daily event taking no time to fully appreciate the actions they are about to perform. Shirley Jackson continues her story telling tradition by leaving the reader with several questions on their mind as the story concludes. Does Mrs. Hutchinson get stoned to death? Does the annual practice of stoning continue? What would happen to this town if the lottery was stopped?

In American Novelists Since World War II, Martha Ragland states that Mrs. Jackson's stories reflect her "pessimistic view of human nature" (161). We believe that this idea is what is responsible for her undercurrent of evil in each story. Perhaps Shirley Jackson's view of the world around her, colors her impression of mankind and as such reflects as a constant evil presence within her stories.

Summary and Commentary taken from: http://erau.db.erau.edu/~stollg/text4.html


Commentary: By JONATHAN LETHEM

A small New England town, blandly familiar in every way, sleepwalking its way through ritual murder. Likely the most controversial piece of fiction ever published in the New Yorker, resulting in hundreds of canceled
subscriptions, later adapted for television, radio and ballet, it now resides in the popular imagination as an archetype. It can be as difficult to persuade readers that the story is just one sheaf in the portfolio of one of this century's most luminous and strange American writers as it is to explain that the town portrayed in "The Lottery" is a real one.I know it is, because I lived there. North Bennington is a tiny village less than a mile from the otherwise isolated Bennington campus in Vermont. Shirley Jackson was married to Stanley Edgar Hyman, a literary critic who taught at the college. And she spent her life in the town, raising four children, presiding over a chaotic household that was host to Ralph Ellison, Bernard Malamud and Howard Nemerov, and at times going quietly crazy, always, with the rigor of one who has found her born task. Six novels, two bestselling volumes of deceptively sunny family memoirs and countless stories before her death at 48, in 1965.

The town hasn't changed, or at least it hadn't by the mid- eighties,
when I was a student at the school. A handful of the townspeople portrayed in thin disguise in Jackson's novels and stories were still around. I knew the square where "The Lottery" takes place. It was Jackson's fate, as a faculty wife and an eccentric newcomer in a staid, insular village, to absorb the reflexive antisemitism and anti-intellectualism felt by the townspeople toward the college. She and her children were accessible in a way that her husband and his colleagues and students, who spent their days on the campus, were not.Jackson was in many senses already two people when she arrived in Vermont. One was a turgid, fearful ugly-duckling, permanently cowed by the severity of her upbringing by a suburban mother obsessed with
appearances. This half of Jackson was a character she brought brilliantly to life in her stories and novels from the beginning:the shy girl, whose identity slips all too easily from its foundations. The other half of Jackson was the expulsive iconoclast,brought out of her shell by marriage to Hyman himself a garrulous egoist very much in the tradition of Jewish '50's New York intellectuals and by the visceral shock of mothering a quartet of
noisy, demanding babies. This second Shirley Jackson dedicated herself to rejecting her mother's sense of propriety, drank and smoked and fed to buttery excess directly to blame for her and her husband's early deaths dabbled in magic and voodoo, and interfered loudly when she thought the provincial Vermont schools were doing an injustice to her talented children. This was the Shirley Jackson that the town feared, resented and, depending on whose version you believe, occasionally persecuted.

The hostility of the villagers further shaped her psyche, and her art; the process eventually redoubled so the latter fed the former. After the enormous success of "The Lottery," a legend arose in town,almost certainly false, that Jackson had been pelted with stones by schoolchildren one day, then gone home and written the story. The real crisis came near the end of her life, resulting in a period of agoraphobia and psychosis; she wrote her way through it in "We Have Always Lived in the Castle." In that novel, Jackson brilliantly isolates the two aspects in her psyche into two odd, damaged sisters: one hypersensitive and afraid, unable to leave the house,
the other a sort of squalid demon prankster who may or may not have
murdered the rest of her family for her fragile sister's sake. For me,
it is that unique and dreamlike book, rather than "The Lottery," that stands as her masterpiece.

Some comments taken from countless e-mails at the discussion group on Jackson's Lottery: http://www.researchpaper.com/forums/English_and_Literature/

Names are symbols:

Old Man Warner--warns the townspeople of the danger of dropping the lottery; Family name of Delacroix in French means "of the cross," however, Mrs. Delacroix was one of the least Christian townspeople since she piks up the biggest stone to cast at Tessie.

"Mr. Graves." Graves denotes death. It is not only a symbolism but a foreshadowing of what was to come. Also "Mrs. Hutchinson" was a symbolic name. The name of Jackson's victim links her to Anne Hutchinson, whose Antinomian (against men) beliefs, found to be heretical by the Puritan hierarchy, resulted in her banishment from Massachusetts in 1638. While Tessie Hutchinson is no spiritual rebel, to be sure, Jackson's allusion to Anne Hutchinson reinforces her suggestions of a rebellion lurking within the women of her imaginary village. Anne Hutchinson was basically "thrown out" of Puritan society because she went against the teachings of the church by holding her own meetings in the home.

Joe Summers, the name represents: a new time, a fresh start: change.
2 most important characters are Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves because they both have really important jobs in the story, Postmaster and head of coal co. Summers was not conservative however, Graves was, lots of comparisons in the story and in their names.
In regard to the black box in "The Lottery," the condition is also symbolic. The color black denotes death, and the box itself is enclosed, thus indicating that whoever is chosen will be closed in by the crowd. The box is old; the paint is peeling, and the wood is splintered. This condition reflects the fading of the tradition in other villages as well as the villager's questioning of the lottery in this village. The three-legged stool is symbolic of the trinity--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Concerning the date June 27: June 27 falls between the Summer Soltice (June 21) and Independece day (July 4)......Paganism and democracy (Date Ref: The Explicator, Vol 52, (#4) Summer 1994, Page 242 by Jay A. Yarmove;)

 


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