I have just finished reading a short story called The Lottery. At first, I assumed the story was the one written by the famous American writer known as Shirley Jackson. However, it was an entirely different story but one that ends in death just the same. While the story was well written, I did not like it so much. The content of the story made me feel helpless like the child who is narrating the story. Reading about the lynch mob and knowing the result of such crowds means someone will die without every getting a proper court trial. Knowing that a lynch mob can be very awful, when the child describes the elders, I assumed the man would have the opportunity to tell his side of the story. However, I was let down when only one elder attempted to help the man. There was no compassion for the man. Besides being accused of stealing, we, the audience was not given any other information as to why the lynch mob decided the man need to die without first investigating his crime. What really made me angry was that the lynch mob refusal to listen to the man and their insistence that children watch the horrible event. Finally, the title of the story is rather confusing at first. Winning the lottery, for some people, would be seen as a good thing because they would be given a prize. Yet, the prize in this story is a horrible death by being burnt alive. That is not the type lottery anyone would want to participate in or win. Undoubtedly, the man would have preferred a trial either by the elders or in formal courts. Throughout humanity’s history, there have been many instances of such brutality.
While I never witness such horrible events in my life, I have read about similar lynch mobs happening in some African countries. I know that putting a tire around a person’s neck and setting him or her on fire is called necklacing. Such mob lynching was considered justice in some African countries. According to a BBC article written by Pumza Fihlani titled “Is Necklacing Returning to South Africa? ” between the years 1984 and 1987 approximately half of the 672 people who were burned to death were necklaced. Supporters of the African National Congress, or the ANC, used necklacing as a form of punishment. Anyone who was considered to have supported the South African apartheid and the regime which put the apartheid in place was killed via necklacing. The ANC did not officially support the use of necklacing as a form of punishment. Necklacing slowly disappeared after the apartheid ended in South Africa. However, in recent times, necklacing has been brought back as a kind of punishment for common criminals in African countries. Fihlani later reported that in June 2011 “[m]ore than seven people are necklaced in the Eastern Cape” (Fihlani). People who are necklaced usually are not given a fair trial. Necklace was seen as a way to help the criminal avoid the hellfire in the afterlife. A similar situation happened the Salem Witch Trials in the United States. While the victims were given a trial, there was a heavy use of religion which did not give many of the accused much room to show they were innocent. Many were either hanged or burned as witches. By killing the accused, the religious people believe they were helping them avoid the hellfire.
Fihlani, Pumza. "Is Necklacing Returning to South Africa?" BBC News. N.p., 12 Oct. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14914526>.