"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson was written in 1948. The story takes place in a village square of a town on June 27 th. The author does not use much emotion in the writing to show how the barbaric act that is going on is look at as normal. This story is about a town that has a lottery once a year to choose who should be sacrificed, so that the town will have a plentiful year for growing crops.
Jackson has many messages about human nature in this short story. The most important message she conveys is how cruel and violent people can be to one another. Another very significant message she conveys is how custom and tradition can hold great power over people. Jackson also conveys the message of how men treat women as objects. The primary message that Jackson shows in "The Lottery" is that people can be involved with such a violent act and think nothing of it.
In the story all the people are happy, "they stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed." (244) All the people in the town gather together without question to perform this horrible act of murder. All the people think nothing of this terrible act. Mr. Summers the man that runs the whole lottery says, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work." (245) This illustrates how they think of the lottery as an everyday occurrence. Old Man Warner says, "lottery in June, corn heavy soon." This confirms how the act of stoning people to death is thought of as a ordinary thing. The children do it, as do the family members of whoever is picked.
No one stands up and says how horrible this act is. Jackson demonstrates how people everywhere can do these horrible things to others and everyone just think of it as ordinary. Another message that Jackson illustrates is the blind following of tradition and how that can be a terrible thing. All the members of the community participate in this horrible act because it is a tradition.
The people believe that if it is a tradition it then the lottery must not be a bad thing. When Old Man Warner heard that some communities had stopped the lottery he called them a "pack of crazy fools." He said, "There's always been a lottery." (247) Jackson shows how a tradition can be so brutal yet everyone will go with it because it's in fact tradition. To go against tradition would be to go against the community, so no one is willing to do that. Jackson shows the long running tradition when the black box that is used to hold the slips of paper never changes. It shows the inability for change in the community. A minor message that Jackson conveys is the idea that men treat women as subordinate in their society.
In the story the men always draw from the box for the families. Jackson proves how men treat the women like objects when Tessie, the women who in the end gets stoned, questions the fact that the drawing wasn't fair and her husband just told her to shut up. Jackson also shows how having many children as a woman makes it less likely to be picked as the person who gets stoned. This shows how it is a more acceptable to have many children as a women and to not do much else other then house work. In this short story Jackson shows how incredibly na " ive and cruel people in society can be.
She explains this all through tradition and how people view this horrible act. Jackson shows how routine the community thinks this disgusting act is. Jackson uses no time frame in the story to show how this type of think can happen anywhere and in any community because people in society can be very cruel to one another.