The Lottery is a short story by Shirley Jackson. This short story leaves several questions unanswered. Nevertheless, the short story is of great interest to the lovers of literature because it leads to the imaginary world that has numerous wishes that majority of the contemporary world’s people hope for. It is clearly evident that everybody wishes to be a lottery winner especially with the current economic hardships. Perhaps, this might be what motivated Jackson to write this short story.
This story depicts a small village that gathers in a town squire where people take part in a lottery. Everybody appears excited despite the fact that some people allow jealousy to take control over them (Franklin, 2013). Hutchison family appears to have won a lottery. Nevertheless, when Mrs. Hutchison’s daughter draws the blacking slip that wins them a lottery for a second time, she appears unhappy and claims that there was unfairness in the entire game (Catlin, 2003 15). Her claims anger the villagers who stone her until she dies. Davy Hutchison, her younger son is among the people who stone her till she dies.
Among the famous critics in literature who review this story is Ruth Franklin. Apart from writing the biography of Shirley Jackson, she has expressed her opinion of the short story, The Lottery. In the article, she stands unique by helping readers understand this story (Franklin, 2013). Ruth expresses positive thoughts and opinions in order to demarcate the essence of the author and the public. She explains the theme of the story which was the inhumanity of man and brutality’s randomness (Catlin, 2003 11). Ruth notes that the story is a clear demonstration of the way neighbors can turn against each other more so in the 20th century when bureaucracy exists. She further adds that negative reaction from the readers was expected at this time due to ugly glimpse which is a reflection of their actions.
It is clear that Ruth wrote the article about this short story as a way of reconciling the thoughts of the author with those of the people who viewed Shirley as an author who is not only harsh but also inhumane. Nevertheless, it ought to be noted that this author attempted to expose what is really happening in the society discretely in order to make people in the society think while reading the story (Franklin, 2013). Despite the fact that understanding this story from Shirley’s perspective is not easy, Ruth enables the society to understand that it is possible for minor things to blind the people and make them turn against one another without thinking (Catlin, 2003 11).
Many literature critics and writers concur with Ruth that the basis of this story are facts rather than fiction. For instance, a Harvard’ sociology professor, Nahum Medalia considers this story by Jackson as factual. He sees it as a powerful story that kept him very cold while reading it in a hot morning. A Twentieth Century-Fox producer, Stirling Silliphant, notes that he and his team were grimly moved by this story. He wonders whether the story was based on imagination or the tribunal rituals of such magnitude still exist. He further wonders where such rituals could be found if they exist.
It is therefore impossible to rule out the fact that the story had a moral lesson despite being somehow inhumane. The story was inhuman as a way of reflecting on the wrong doings that people never notice in the society.
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Catlin, Don. The Lottery Book: The Truth behind the Numbers. Chicago: Bonus Books, 2003.
Franklin, Ruth. “The Lottery Letters.” The New Yorker. June 26, 2013 http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/06/the-lottery-letters.html. Accessed January, 30 2014.