Shirley Jackson's 'Lottery': Unveiling Its Purpose

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About this sample


Words: 701 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Words: 701|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Shirley Jackson, well known for her 200 plus short stories, 6 novels, and 2 memoirs was a very profound author, one of her most popular short stories being “The Lottery” (1948) enlightens us of how some people can commit evil acts towards their peers showing no remorse and just to keep a tradition going. Her argument is supported throughout the story because multiples acts are put on to show about how important this tradition is to them. Shirley wrote this to show how far people would go to keep a tradition going. The audience Jackson writes for is teenagers and adults, but not readers to young to learn about death.

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When you think of winning a lottery most people think of winning a grand prize, but in this case it is the total opposite and can end very drastically. It has no designated nor positive purpose and all throughout the short story instead of wanting to end the lottery everyone wants to keep it a tradition. Old Man Warner and other characters from the short story at many points state that the lottery should not be put off even though in some places it is. When Warner found out about this his first words were, “Pack of fools” he also says, “Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them.” This gives off the perception that the author believes that there is no problem in harming innocent people. Jackson opens the story by showing that this ritual is practiced by everyone in town and has been going on for decades now. The story shows how the children of the town were just as much a part of the ritual as everyone else.

Once they had gotten out of school “Bobby Martin gathered some of the smoothest and roundest rocks and his peers proceed to do the same” as if they had been excitedly waiting for this day to come. Equally important, Old Man Warner continuously talks about how he has survived the lottery for 77 years, this goes to show how long this ritual has been in existence and also how many years he has survived it. It is very disturbing knowing that even children at younger ages participated in these brutal acts. To say nothing of it seems as though in this small village every family is for themselves. As the story continues to escalate and the lottery starts names are drawn and it has come down to the Hutchinson family Tessie, wife of Bill Hutchinson starts to act out of control in fear of knowing that either or husband or one of her children are about to be stoned to death. Her husband acts out against his wife telling her “shut up” when she was trying to defend for him once she had found out that her family’s name was the chosen one. In the end, Tessie ends up being the chosen one. Everyone gathers their stones as they begin to stone Tessie, including some of the women she was close with within the village.

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Mrs. Delacroix and Tessie had an entire conversation before the lottery had begun, but in the end, Mrs. Declacroix ended up playing a part in the stoning of Tessie. In the text, it states that “Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large that she had to pick it up with both hands” this just goes to show that people cannot be trusted because even your own friends will turn their back against one another. Both quotes are examples of direct evidence, meaning it requires no justification and the evidence alone is enough to prove the statement. Your closest friends can sometimes be one’s worst enemy and you may never know. All in all crime or hatred ness should not be committed upon by any human being for no reason. Throughout the short story, Jackson shows how a tradition is so important in this village that they are willing to go to whatever extent possible to keep it alive. This is commonly known as a sociopath and many of the people in the village are direct examples of just that. Violence should never be the key especially when there has been no crime committed.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Shirley Jackson’s ‘Lottery’: Unveiling Its Purpose. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“Shirley Jackson’s ‘Lottery’: Unveiling Its Purpose.” GradesFixer, 10 Dec. 2020,
Shirley Jackson’s ‘Lottery’: Unveiling Its Purpose. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Feb. 2024].
Shirley Jackson’s ‘Lottery’: Unveiling Its Purpose [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Dec 10 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from:
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