" 'It isn't fair, it isn't right,' Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon
her." (About Jackson 2)
When a writer composes a short story, some may have a meaning and others may
not. With the ones that have a purpose, it is usually a very profound, easily understood
meaning that is developed within them. The quote is taken from Shirley Jackson's, The
Lottery, which is one short story the has a very difficult meaning to be understood. From
this one quote alone, a person should be able to tell that this story is supposed to show
what is right and what is wrong.
It is with this in mind that Jackson writes the story to show us all some kind of meaning. Shirley Jackson was born December 14, 1919 in San Francisco, California (About Jackson 2). She lived in San Francisco for twenty-one years until she entered Syracuse University (Bentley 1). While attending Syracuse, she met and married Stanley Edgar Hyman, who ironically was a critic that later became her editor (Bentley 1). The Lottery was written in 1948, seven years after Shirley Jackson wrote her first short story, My Life with RH Macy (About Jackson 2). She then went on to write The Road Through the Wall, The Hang saman, Life Among the Savages, The Bird's Nest, Raising Demons, The Sundial, The Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle between 1948 and 1962 (About Jackson 2).
August 8, 1965, three years after her last short story We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson died (About Jackson 2). The Lottery was set in a small village where people began to gather between the post office and the bank around ten o'clock in the morning on June 27 th (Lottery 1). The children assembled first, where the feeling of freedom settled around them uneasily (Lottery 1). The men gathered soon after, looking at there children and chatting about the usual, the women coming shortly after their husbands to exchange bits of gossip until the lottery started (Lottery 1).
The lottery was conducted by Mr. Summers, and assisted by the postmaster, Mr. Graves (Lottery 1). The black box used for the lottery had been put to use even before oldest, Old Man Warner, was born (Lottery 1). There were the Martins, Bill and Tessie Hutchinson, their family, Mr.
and Mrs. Adams, and all 300 or so people from the village (Lottery 1). Mr. Summers brought the black box down and set it on a stool Mr. Graves had brought (Lottery 2). The called each head of the family down to draw from the box, which was filled with slips of paper (Lottery 2).
After all had drawn, Mr. Summers told them to look at their slip of paper (Lottery 2). There were murmurs and people trying to find who had got it (Lottery 2). It was Bill Hutchinson. his wife, Tessie, started complaining about it not being fair. Bill told her to shut up.
Mr. Summers took there slips of paper, five in all from Bill, Tessie, and their children Nancy, Bill Jr. , and Dave (Lottery 2). He put the slips into the box and had them all draw out again (Lottery 2). On command they opened their papers (Lottery 2). Someone opened Dave's for him, it was blank (Lottery 2).
Nancy and Bill Jr. opened theirs at the same time and laughed because they were both blank (Lottery 2). Bill unfolded his, and it was also blank (Lottery 3). Mr. Summers told Bill to show everyone Tessie's paper (Lottery 3).
It had a little black spot on it (Lottery 3). Mr. Summers told everyone to hurry up and finish it quickly (Lottery 3). Thought the villagers had forgotten the ritual and had lost the original black box, they remembered to use stones (Lottery 3). The children had stones already, and someone gave little Dave a few pebbles (Lottery 3). Tessie was in the center of the cleared space now and kept saying it was not fair (Lottery 3).
A stone hit her in the side of the head. "It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed and then they were upon her (Lottery 3). This short story of Shirley Jackson has caught much attention from the literary standpoint of critics. One thing that all the critics have in common on their view of The Lottery is their opinion of the scapegoat. The scapegoat archetype is transferring ones sins to persons or animals and then sacrificing them to make people believe their sins were eliminated (Jackson's Lottery 2).
Shirley Jackson uses this, along with seasonal and life-death archetypes, to build on mans inherent need for such rituals (Jackson's Lottery 2). To show balance she juxtaposes Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves by having them share the responsibility of the ritual: Life brings death, death brings life (Jackson's Lottery 2). Mr. Summers and Mr.
Graves are opposites, Mr. Summers is a jovial man and sets tone with his name and mannerisms, and Mr. Graves name hints a dark undertone (Jackson's Lottery 2). The picnic-like atmosphere betrays the serious consequence of the lottery, for like the seed, a sacrificial person must also be buried to bring forth life (Jackson's Lottery 2). The people used the scapegoat to make themselves feel better about their won personal sins and wrong doings, just like the atmosphere was there to make them feel better about what they were about to do (Jackson's Lottery 2). At one point, the lottery represented a grave experience and all understood the profound meaning of the tradition (Jackson's Lottery 2).
As time passed, villages began to take the ritual lightly. They endured almost as automatons- "actors" anxious to return to their mundane, work day lives (Jackson's Lottery 2). Another well none criticism is ideological mechanism. It serves to reinforce the village's social order by instilling the villages with a subconscious fear that if they resist they might be selected in the next lottery (Kosenko 2).
While creating this fear, it also reproduces the ideology necessary for the smooth function of that social order (Kosenko 2). What is surprising is that The Lottery has never been identified as Marxist because of the way the social order and ideology are essentially capitalist (Kosenko 2). Critics have also identified The Lottery as an allegory (Shirley Jackson 3). An allegory is the representation of a subject in a story, play, or picture, using the people or events portrayed to illustrate deeper or more general truths (Readers Digest 54). It is obvious that the short story is an allegory, according to critics. The Lottery presents conflicts on more than one level (Conflicts 1).
the most important conflict is between the subject matter and the way the story is told (Conflicts 1). Shirley Jackson gives us the feeling of being in an idyllic rural, which she does to put us at ease an to distract us from the horror that is to come (Conflicts 1). With this she is trying to depict the horrible secret which show the hidden horrors in our daily life (Conflicts 1). Jackson uses Tessie Hutchinson to comment on the sacrificial role that women play in American society (Conflicts 1).
Tessie Hutchinson is a house wife, raises children, takes care of home, and accepts her role in society up to a point (Conflicts 1). She rushes her husband to hurry up and draw, but when he gets the black dot, she complains he was rushed (Conflicts 1). Until the reality of the situation set in she was ready and willing to fulfill whatever role her social group set for her (Conflicts 1). When she sees the danger she faces she is aware of the unfairness of the situation, "It's isn't fair, it isn't right," she said after she notices the unfairness (Conflicts 1) (About Jackson 2).
The villagers are glad to have the normal ritual that the community followed, though (Conflicts 1). Tessie is no longer a member of the community (Conflicts 1). This is shown by her insistence that a married daughter should participate in the household drawing (Conflicts 1). She is willing to endanger her child in order to increase the odds of her survival (Conflicts 1). The rules no longer matter to her because she feels she is already outside of that community, and though she has given up the rules of the community she appeals to them in an attempt to save her life (Conflicts 1).
It is as if she would allow the community to accept her back in (Conflicts 1). Her protests upset the community because it conflicts with the basic fairness of the process (Conflicts 1). Theoretically, the lottery is fair but the system of human sacrifice in order to ensure a good harvest is not (Conflicts 1). Jackson conveys two main messages in The Lottery. First is the rural life we idolize in America has terrible secrets, secondly she is illustrating the sacrifice of women throughout history (Conflicts 2).
Because of her society was one that depended on women for their work, it influenced her writing (Conflicts 2). It demanded a sacrifice of herself and ambitions- besides raising family or to God of Domestica lity (Conflicts 2). The story portrays the sacrifice that has been part of the lives of all women, which could be and has been said about the lot of women in past WWII America (Conflicts 2). when Shirley Jackson wrote The Lottery in 1948, Americans were listening about as much as the townspeople listened to Tessie Hutchinson before stoning her to death (Conflicts 2).
In Conclusion, The Lottery is full of historical relic and symbolic language. According to critics, people would not have understood the meaning of the lottery if not for the critical analysis of the story behind it. Because of her surroundings, the story she beautifully wrote has portrayed to longings of women in America in the 1940's and the sacrificial way people use women to get around in life. As to whether I agree to this or not I am not sure because most all the critics had conflicting views on her story.
I'm not really sure how to go about agreeing with which one or not, I just know the story had some meaning on a deeper level. So I guess I do agree with its being an allegory, as for the rest you " ll have to figure that out yourself.