Institutionalized Ritual in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

1625 Words Feb 17th, 2018 6 Pages
Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, is a terrifying, tension filled masterpiece of an ancient human practice set present day America, 1948. Jackson’s dark, short story is about a rural farming village on the east coast, who, like other villages around them, conduct a yearly “lottery.” It begins in the town square in the month of June, where the schoolchildren are gathering stones while awaiting the arrival of their respective families. When the lottery is formally started, roll call is initiated followed by that particular person walking up to the “black box” and removing a slip of paper without looking at it. Once the names of all the villagers are called, everyone looks at their own slips of paper, even the woman and children. The villager with the black circle is the winner of that year’s lottery and as such, is chosen to die by stoning from the other villagers. It is important to note that The Lottery is written just after World War II, in the years following the holocaust. Jackson moves to reconstruct how Germans, at the time, were able to turn a blind eye and accept a barbaric act of purging their neighbors as a societal norm. The reaction to this short story made Shirley Jackson famous; she set off emotional waves coast to coast of hatred and denial in regards to the meaning of the text. Through a Marxism analysis, it is easier to understand how a society as a whole accepts an institutionalized ritual as a part of everyday life.
Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery was published…

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