Reflection on “The Lottery”
In the short story, “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, the town gathers on June 27th of each year. There is great detail given in how all of the members of the town gather for the event. It appears that this is something that the town looks forward too as an annual tradition, although it is not mentioned or specified. The children all gather first and it appears that they are lighthearted, gathering in what appears to be the first time since school has let out for the summer. It seems that they are happy to be together. The men gathering next, and before the women, indicates that perhaps the matter on hand is serious in nature. The women then coming together and first spending time with each other, and then joining their husbands, allows the reader to wonder again how important the event is and if it is a serious affair. When the men call their children and the families gather as a group, which is another indicator that the gathering has a heavy and serious tone.
When the black box is carried out and described with such detail, it is an obvious symbol that the lottery that the town is about to have is not just an annual tradition, but one that is serious and embedded in tradition. Mr. Summers ran the lottery since he had no children. Having a small family, just a wife, is perhaps indicative of the best chance of winning is having he fewest family members to participate. The seriousness of the matter becomes apparent when role is taken to make sure all are represented and then the names of the families start to be called and in most instances the men come forward and draw a ticket for their respective families. Yet, it is obvious that the tradition is important to the people in the own. The adults discuss how other towns have ended the tradition of the lottery and infer that such places are barbaric. It is implied that doing away with the ritual would lead to regression rather than progressivism. This can confuse the reader again as to what is being drawn for through the annual ritual.
The somber atmosphere as the family representatives draw names from the black box. As the winner is announced and unfairness is mentioned, it becomes obvious that the scenario is not good. The pile of rocks is mentioned again as the family members need to each select a slip and find out who the winner is, and the stoning soon begins. One has to wonder why the members of the town keep the tradition after all. What purpose do they find it to serve ?
Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. 1948. Web.