When people start living together and share some specific ideology and interests, society is formed. People have a tendency to interact with one another and the exchange their ideas and thoughts on several issues. Due to Such interactions, society, more or less, starts behaving and thinking in a specific way. Society categorizes several ideas as good, bad, necessary, and unacceptable (Jackson). It is not essential that what society believes is right or ethical; it may even be completely unethical. The same trend has been portrayed in Shirley Jackson’s story, "The Lottery”.
Jackson, through her words, portrays the dilemma as well as fear that Tessie Hutchinson faces once she was to face the event. Tessie Hutchinson has been portrayed as unenthusiastic at the moment of the lottery. She makes her first appearance when people are assembled for the annual event, and everybody was looking towards Mr. Summers, who was preparing to begin the proceedings. Tessie rushed at the spot and addressed her friend Mrs. Delacroix “clean forgot what day it was” (Jackson, 234).
Tessie was extremely nervous and sounded very confused. She told Mrs. Delacroix “I Looked out the window and the kids was gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running” (Jackson, 10). Tessie sounded like a kid who realizes that he is late for something, rushes and explains his belatedness. The author further highlights her confusion and childishness through portrayal of her appearance.
An interesting aspect of her personality is that like other people of this small township, Tessie also never questioned about the reasonability of this event but when her name was chosen in the lottery, she raised the question on it. A clear change in her character is noticeable, and Tessie converts into a rebellion from a mute spectator. Tessie almost reprimanded Mr. Summers and alleged biases for not giving her husband, Bill “enough time to take the paper he wanted” (Jackson, 236). Her senses of right and wrong were activated only when her name was chosen in the lottery.
Tessie starts behaving in a shameless manner and becomes selfish once her name is chosen. She, in order to save her life, points towards her daughter as well as her son in law and requests Mr. Summers to “make them take their chance” (Jackson, 236). Jackson exposes the selfishness of society through Tessie and exposes how a mother, in order to save her own life, wants her daughter as well as son in law to be stoned and killed. Tessie also tries to convince everybody to discontinue such rubbish traditions but not a single person was ready to pay attention to what she said because this was Tessie, who was chosen and not anybody else.
The most embarrassing situation for Tessie came when she was reprimanded by her husband who said, “Shut Up” when she was using all her tricks in order to save her own life once it was decided that she is the one who has to be stoned. Her stand was opposed by almost everybody since it was decided that her death is a guarantee to life for others (Jackson). Tessie becomes sacrifice lamb, and she was stoned to death by people of the town.
Jackson portrays a sharp change in the character of Tessie. Tessie appeared to be happy before the lottery “Wouldn't leave m' dishes in the sink, now would you, Joe and soft laughter ran through the crowd of people” (Jackson, 11). The same Tessie was ready to do anything in order to save her life after her name appeared in the lottery. This is the story of individuals living in the society and the reality appears only when own interest is in the question. Jackson truly suggests that people have two faces, and the real one is exposed only when they are in any awkward situation as Tessie Hutchinson.
Having observed the abovementioned detailed analysis of Tessie Hutchinson, it can be concluded that Tessie represents the real face of people of this materialistic world. She was happy as well as excited before the lottery event but was angry and upset when her own name was appeared in the lottery. Tessie started behaving in a bizarre way, and she was ready to do everything in order to save her life. Her character was completely changed from a mute spectator to someone who was against such traditions. Tessie even suggested the name of her daughter and son in law in order to save her life. Shirley Jackson has portrayed the character of Tessie Hutchinson in the most practical way.
Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. USA: The Creative Company, 2008.
Jackson, Shirley. "The Lottery." Jacobs, Edgar V.Roberts and Henry E. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. New Jersey: Prentice, 2006. 233-238.