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How Ironical is the Good Village in Shirley Jackson's Short Story

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The story of “The Lottery” takes place in a small village, where everyone seems to know each other and everyone seems to get along. It adds to the plot because we do not expect people from such a sweet little village to do something so horrible as to stone someone to death every year for no reason at all. Small towns usually have the oldest traditions, and it wasn’t very out of place for everyone to follow the tradition, even if nobody knew what it meant. It was also stated that people forgot parts of the ritual but continued with it anyway. Most people in the village held their breath when a small child drew a card for the lottery, which meant most of them didn’t want the lottery to happen. If it were a big city, the lottery wouldn’t have much of an effect, but the small village was very affected by the lottery because of the mob mentality. In large cities, it’s near impossible to have everyone follow along. In small villages, where everyone knows each other, it is much more likely. This can be seen in multiple small communities in our culture.

The title “The Lottery” could be considered ironic because usually people want to win lotteries. In popular culture, a lottery is something where millions of dollars are given away for free, so the prize is coveted. Similarly, other versions of the lottery in our culture include having our names drawn for a prize of some sort, not necessarily money. Either way, a lottery is something we want to win. In this short story, the lottery is not something you want to win at all. The ritual the villagers have is that the winner is to be stoned to death by the other villagers, simply because they drew a marked paper. This puts a twist into the story, because the author tricks us in the beginning. When she refers to the lottery, we automatically assume it is a good thing. The plot twist is that nobody wants to win the lottery because obviously nobody wants to die. The opening descriptions could be considered ironic because they describe a beautiful morning, where everything seems to have a happy ambiance. Nothing gives away the fact that someone is about to be killed later on.

The name Graves could allude to the leader of the lottery, making people take their chances. He ultimately sends the winner to his/her “grave.” Mr. Graves is also the owner of the post office, which is ironic because instead of delivering good news, like in the mail, Mr. Graves delivers terrible news. Grave can also mean very somber or dark. Yet, Mr. Graves is surprisingly happy and he acts as if the lottery is a good thing. He’s almost cheerful that someone has to die. The name Delacroix in French means “of the cross.” The Delacroix family did not win the lottery, therefore being spared the horror of being stoned by their friends. It is as if they are “protected” by the cross or even God himself. Mrs. Delacroix also picks the biggest stone to throw at her “friend” Tessie. The author could be mocking Christianity by calling it hypocritical. It could also be a play on the biblical proverb or story, where the worst people “cast the first stone.” Summers is also a cheerful name, because summer usually refers to vacation and freedom. However, Mr. Summers is one of the people helping out in the running of the lottery, which is a dark affair. It is ironic that he is helping Mr. Graves with the lottery because his name connotates something so cheerful. Mr. Summers is also the one who organizes community events, which makes it more odd that he helps with this.

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