When you hear the word lottery, you probably think of winning a large sum of money before being stoned to death. ” The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson brings this horrible idea to life. While the overall mood of the story depicts a typical day in a small rural town, through great use of imagery and irony, one is set up for an unusual ending. Shirley Jackson uses the element of surprise. The way of the story ends is unlike anyone could predict.
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 families 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. It is clear; we don’t make our own decisions, and authority influences it.
As Suspense in the Lottery plays the most the first hint that something strange is happening is brought to our attention in the second paragraph, after Jackson describes the summer morning, she alludes to the children gathering in the Village Square, but they are acting quite strange. “Bobby Martin had a already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys”. (Text, 782). The first questions we must ask is why are the boys pilling stones will play an important role in the final outcome.
The Lottery conveys its message through obedience. The Lottery plays the most important role making, even though short, is well developed and seems prolonged. The Village’s powerful men are Mr. Summers, Mr. Grave and Mr. Martin. These three most powerful men who control the town, economically as well as politically, also happen to administer the Lottery. It is no coincidence that the Lottery takes place in the village square between the post office and the bank, two buildings of authority that represent government and finance.
In Doris Lesssing essay ” Group Minds”, the comment ” what is dangerous is not the belonging to a group or groups, but not understanding the social laws that govern groups and govern us”, is an amazing comment. As people, we tend to engage ourselves into groups, not knowing the true essence of that group. Meaning, the dangerous issue is having no knowledge of what to expect. As we take a look back into Milgram experiment, we see that the idea of participating in an experiment seemed simple, however it turned out to be the most painful experience. One can become so naive into thinking just because an authority figure is present; you have no choice but to obey authority. As Lessing contended, ” This mechanism, of obedience to the group, does not only mean obedience or submission to a small group, or one that is sharply determined, like a religion or political party. It means, too, conforming to those large, vague, ill-defined collections of people from outside, from outside, from another culture, seem very minor.” When we think about sororities, we think of challenge. Before you are in that particular group, you are expected to obey every challenge given. I suspect there’s more freedom to explore the depths of depravity. The overall moral is that we are not force to do anything; we are manipulated into believing what is not real. So therefore we become victims of our own story.