Shirley Jackson, an American
author, is known for composing a highly controversial tale about a village’s annual
death ritual in the short-story, The
Lottery. Though this chronicle seems horrid, Jackson reveals that in a
coherent society, conformity is always lurking leading to the most barbaric activities
seeming sensible- with the absence of mutiny, is an illusion of harmony- preventing
anyone from engaging in the possibility that other options might exist. This type of compliance reflects the actions
of the Nazis in 1945, three years before the publication of The Lottery which plays an immense role
in the inspiration of this bizarre piece of literature.
this small-knit, un-named town, an annual lottery takes place on a “clear and sunny,
with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day” on June 27th (The Lottery, 1984). However, for one of
the citizens, the day will be dark and morbid, full of dread, fear, and death. Ironically
enough, not one of the residents has come into question of why they repeat this
tradition of stoning a member of society. It just occurs each and every year,
even since Old Man Warner was a child. The Lottery is programmed in their existence-
illuminated when Warner is exasperated people have given up it up in the north,
and he is not triggered when upon losing one of his members in his community. Even
the children find this day “routine” and obey the tradition with boys gathering
stones while the girls chat and giggle. The essence of inhumanity is reflected
in the villagers who view the stoning tradition as fact. They talk about it,
remember it, and yet they don’t know its entirety. They have embraced culture’s
practice and consider it a part of their identity. Rosa Parks needs to come and
teach the society some attributes contributing to standing up for what is right.
The violence and cruelty of this tradition was done by claimed “civilians”
seeing no harm. Shirley Jackson lived in a time full of brutality encompassed
around World War II, which shaped her view for the world, America, and even
small towns. They all have something in common: the need to fit in and follow
the culture’s ways. For the Germans, their tradition was blaming Jews for all tribulations.
If all did this, then they are “fitting in” and are perfect citizens. Both The Lottery and the Nazi’s engaged in a
gruesome violence seen as just a part of their identity.
Davie Hutchinson participated in the stoning of his own mother, reflecting the
future generation’s participation in these vile events that are seen in the
same eyes as “…square dances, the teen club, and the Halloween program.” (The Lottery, 1984) During this time,
Shirley Jackson’s world has lived through two wars (World War I and World War
II). People were told to kill and engage in the systematic killing. In the same
way, the villages kill one another every year, because it’s what tradition
tells them to do. Each generation after the next, is given a stone to kill the
previous generation, and submerge themselves further into dehumanization. The
fact that the inhabitants can commit such crimes and see no harm is the proof
of the corruption in humans by means of conformity.
Ironically, the term “lottery” in our society
encompasses happiness, luck, and big winnings; however, the term in Jackson’s
tale has conformed to another level of meaning putting emphasis on the expanses
society can flip around. There is one aspect that stayed true: the fact that
one person, one action, and one moment can change another person’s life forever.
This highlights the need for individuality instead of communism in the German
society. If someone steps out of their boundary, like they can change the life
for others. Corrie Ten Boom represents an icon of risking her own life, in
order to make things right and stop the lies of truth hidden in conformity. Her
life was at risk based on the fate of Hitler’s existence. He chose a race of
people for his evil agenda, and a random assortment was forced to be communist.
The death of six million Jews was the notion of one irrational individual
playing the lottery with a race, country, and the way of life. Yet, people
still say the Holocaust didn’t happen. Jackson’s life experience reveals the
truth that an individual is not willing to speak up until something bad has
happened to them and by that time, it’s too late.
a dark essence in all societies. Shirley Jackson’s short-story symbolizes
several hidden, desires prowling in all hearts-one being to fit into standards.
A society in harmony, has to have levels of conformity-without, discord and uprisings
are brought to the surface. However, with communism and conformity comes
situations like the Holocaust and annual stoning’s. Shirley Jackson knew when
she published her tale on June 26th, that on the 27th, uprisings
would occur- on the day of the annual lottery-causing individualism.