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Encyclopedia > The Lottery

"The Lottery" is a short story by Shirley Jackson, first published in the June 28, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. The only change New Yorker editors made to Jackson's original manuscript was to alter the date in the story to make it one day after the date of the magazine's publication. A lottery is a popular form of gambling which involves the drawing of lots for a prize. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Lotteryart. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Lotteryart. ... This article is in need of attention. ... This article is about the author. ... is the 179th day of the year (180th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1948 (MCMXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display the 1948 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see New Yorker. ...


The magazine and Jackson herself were surprised by the highly negative reader response. Many readers cancelled their subscriptions, and hate mail continued to arrive throughout the summer. In South Africa the story was banned. Since then, it has been accepted as a classic American short story, subject to many critical interpretations and media adaptations.

Contents

Plot summary

The story contrasts commonplace details of contemporary life with a barbaric ritual known as the "lottery". The setting is a small American town (pop. 300) where the locals display a celebratory mood as they gather on June 27 for their annual lottery. After a person from each family draws a small piece of paper, one slip with a black spot indicates the Hutchinson family has been chosen. When each member of that family draws again to see which family member "wins," Tessie Hutchinson is the final choice. She is then stoned by everyone present, including her own family. is the 178th day of the year (179th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Stoning, or lapidation, refers to a form of capital punishment execution method carried out by an organized group throwing stones or rocks at the person they mean to execute. ...


Controversy

Controversy surrounding the story brought an overwhelming amount of mail plus phone calls and hundreds of cancelled subscriptions. In Private Demons, Jackson's biographer, Judy Oppenheimer, wrote, "Nothing in the magazine before or since would provoke such a huge outpouring of fury, horror, rage, disgust and intense fascination." The subscription business model is a business model that has long been used by magazines and record clubs, but the application of this model is spreading. ...


Amid the optimism of the post-WWII years, many readers of family magazines were shocked or confused to find the traditions and values of small town America twisted into violence. Some believed Jackson had based the short story on true events that had happened or were still happening in a real American town. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


Rarely mentioned in essays and discussions of the story is the fact that, during the late 1940s, crowds gathered at town squares in rural communities across the country to participate in weekly cash-prize lotteries, calculated by city councils to drum up business for local merchants. Such a lottery was held on the lawn of the courthouse square in Lexington, Mississippi, in the post-war years, and New Yorker subscribers who had witnessed similar small-town gatherings perhaps began reading "The Lottery" with a notion that the story was a fictionalization of those cash drawings. [1] Lexington is a city located in Holmes County, Mississippi. ...


Many readers demanded an explanation of the situation described in the story, and a month after the initial publication, Shirley Jackson responded in the San Francisco Chronicle (July 22, 1948): Todays San Francisco Chronicle was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. ... is the 203rd day of the year (204th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story's readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.

Jackson lived in Bennington, Vermont, and her comment reveals she had Bennington in mind when she wrote "The Lottery." In a 1960 lecture (printed in her 1968 collection, Come Along with Me), Jackson recalled the hate mail she received in 1948: Bennington (town), Vermont Old Bennington, Vermont Bennington County, Vermont North Bennington, Vermont Bennington (CDP), Vermont This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...

One of the most terrifying aspects of publishing stories and books is the realization that they are going to be read, and read by strangers. I had never fully realized this before, although I had of course in my imagination dwelt lovingly upon the thought of the millions and millions of people who were going to be uplifted and enriched and delighted by the stories I wrote. It had simply never occurred to me that these the millions and millions of people might be so far from being uplifted that they would sit down and write me letters I was downright scared to open; of the three-hundred-odd letters that I received that summer I can count only thirteen that spoke kindly to me, and they were mostly from friends. Even my mother scolded me: "Dad and I did not care at all for your story in The New Yorker," she wrote sternly; "it does seem, dear, that this gloomy kind of story is what all you young people think about these days. Why don't you write something to cheer people up?"

The New Yorker kept no records of the phone calls, but letters addressed to Jackson were forwarded to her. That summer she began to regularly take home 10 to 12 forwarded letters each day. In addition, she also received weekly packages from The New Yorker containing letters and questions addressed to the magazine or editor Harold Ross, plus carbons of the magazine's responses mailed to letter writers. Harold Wallace Ross (November 6, 1892 - December 6, 1951) was an American journalist and founder of The New Yorker magazine, which he edited from 1925 to his death. ...

Curiously, there are three main themes which dominate the letters of that first summer—three themes which might be identified as bewilderment, speculation and plain old-fashioned abuse. In the years since then, during which the story has been anthologized, dramatized, televised, and even—in one completely mystifying transformation—made into a ballet, the tenor of letters I receive has changed. I am addressed more politely, as a rule, and the letters largely confine themselves to questions like what does this story mean? The general tone of the early letters, however, was a kind of wide-eyed, shocked innocence. People at first were not so much concerned with what the story meant; what they wanted to know was where these lotteries were held, and whether they could go there and watch.

In The Magic of Shirley Jackson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1966), her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, wrote about her reaction to the banning of the story in the Union of South Africa: "She felt that they at least understood." In 1984, The Lottery was included among the 30 most-often banned books in American schools and libraries, as listed by Playboy (January, 1984). The books were arranged by frequency of censorship with the most-banned first, the least-banned last. At that time, The Lottery ranked #17, between Black Like Me and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Farrar, Straus and Giroux is a book publishing company, founded in 1946 by Roger W. Straus, Jr. ... Motto Ex Unitate Vires (Latin: From Unity, strength} Anthem Die Stem van Suid-Afrika Capital Cape Town (legislative) Pretoria (administrative) Bloemfontein (judicial) Language(s) Afrikaans, Dutch, English Government Constitutional monarchy Monarch  - 1952-1961 Queen Elizabeth II Governor-General  - 1959-1961 Charles Robberts Swart Prime Minister  - 1958-1961 Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd... For other uses, see Playboy (disambiguation). ... Black Like Me is a non-fiction book by journalist John Howard Griffin first published in 1961 (it was made into a film in 1964). ... One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Russian: ) is a story by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, originally published in November 1962 in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir. ...


Critical interpretations

Mr. Summers, Mr. Graves and Mr. Martin are the village's most important men. With a successful coal business, Summers can be viewed as the leader of this closely knit community where men dominate the women. The women are apparently satisfied with their position in the social ladder. Tessie assents to the idea of the lottery until she is selected as the person to be killed, screaming, "It isn't fair." Tessie's sudden change of heart upon having her own name chosen serves to highlight the hypocrisy of a society in which violence is accepted until it becomes personal. Except for Mr. and Mrs. Adams' words to Old Man Warner, there is no notion of ending the lottery. It is an ingrained ritual, and the villagers regard industrious labor to be a magical protection against being chosen, as indicated by the Old Man Warner, never selected during his 77 years. When Mrs. Adams tells Warner that some of the other villages have stopped holding the annual lotteries, he replies, "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon." He is a traditionalist who views the annual event as a way of life. His comment about those contemplating an end to the lottery: "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while." Summers, whose opinion takes precedence, doesn’t feel the need to oppose the lottery, and the villagers are all inclined to continue the tradition. Binomial name L. Corn (Zea mays L. ssp. ...


Helen E. Nebeker's essay, "The Lottery: Symbolic Tour de Force" in American Literature (March, 1974) reveals that every major name in the story has a special significance:

By the end of first two paragraphs, Jackson has carefully indicated the season, time of ancient excess and sacrifice, and the stones, most ancient of sacrificial weapons. She has also hinted at larger meanings through name symbology. "Martin," Bobby’s surname, derives from a Middle English word signifying ape or monkey. This, juxtaposed with "Harry Jones" (in all its commonness) and "Dickie Delacroix" (of-the-Cross) urges us to an awareness of the Hairy Ape within us all, veneered by a Christianity as perverted as "Delacroix," vulgarized to "Dellacroy" by the villagers. Horribly, at the end of the story, it will be Mrs. Delacroix, warm and friendly in her natural state, who will select a stone "so large she had to pick it up with both hands" and will encourage her friends to follow suit... "Mr. Adams," at once progenitor and martyr in the Judeo-Christian myth of man, stands with "Mrs. Graves"—the ultimate refuge or escape of all mankind—in the forefront of the crowd. Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is... For other uses, see Adam (disambiguation). ... Look up Grave in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Felix Oehlshlaeger, in "The Stoning of Mistress Hutchinson: Meaning of Context in The Lottery" (Essays in Literature, 1988), wrote:

The name of Jackson's victim links her to Anne Hutchinson, whose Antinomian beliefs, found to be heretical by the Puritan hierarchy, resulted in her banishment from Massachusetts in 1638. While Tessie Hutchinson is no spiritual rebel, to be sure, Jackson's allusion to Anne Hutchinson reinforces her suggestions of a rebellion lurking within the women of her imaginary village. Since Tessie Hutchinson is the protagonist of "The Lottery", there is every indication that her name is indeed an allusion to Anne Hutchinson, the American religious dissenter. She was excommunicated despite an unfair trial, while Tessie questions the tradition and correctness of the lottery as well as her humble status as a wife. It might as well be this insubordination that leads to her selection by the lottery and stoning by the angry mob of villagers. Anne Hutchinson on Trial by Edwin Austin Abbey Anne Hutchinson (July, 1591 – July, 1643) was the unauthorized Puritan preacher of a dissident church discussion group and a pioneer settler in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Netherlands. ... Look up Heresy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. ...

In "A Reading of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"' (New Orleans Review, Spring 1985) Peter Kosenko provides a Marxist interpretation of the story that brings all of Jackson's details together into a critique of capitalism. For other uses, see Capitalism (disambiguation). ...

Though it is arguable that the "primary themes are scapegoating, man's inherent evil, and the destructive nature of observing ancient, outdated rituals" this is a common misconception. The actual theme of the short story is that man creates philosophical existences that he is unable to fulfill. This is shown through Tessie Hutchinson. Throughout the story she is joking around about the lottery and carrying on like all the other townspeople, but as soon as her family name is chosen from the black box her perspective takes quite the turn. Suddenly this "isn't fair" when in all reality a lottery is by definition the most fair method of chance. When Hutchinson exclaims, "It isn't fair!" this is a prime example of dramatic irony. While it is obvious that Tessie believes it was not fair that she was chosen, Jackson is also trying to express that human nature is unfair. It is in human nature to kill and that is unfair. The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1854. ...

Media adaptations

In addition to numerous reprints in magazines, anthologies and textbooks, "The Lottery" has been adapted for radio, live television, a 1953 ballet, a 1969 film short, a TV movie, an opera and a one-act play. NBC's radio adaptation was broadcast March 14, 1951 as an episode of the anthology series, NBC Short Story. Ellen M. Violett wrote the first television adaptation, seen on Albert McCleery's Cameo Theatre (1950–1955). Currently, the Acting Company offers a one-act production, directed by Douglas Mercer and adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, which can be staged in school classrooms. [2] This article is about the television network. ... is the 73rd day of the year (74th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Larry Yust's short film, The Lottery (1969), produced as part of the Encyclopædia Britannica's "Short Story Showcase" series, was ranked by the Academic Film Archive "as one of the two bestselling educational films ever". It has an accompanying ten-minute commentary film, "Discussion of The Lottery" by USC English professor Dr. James Durbin. Featuring the film debut of Ed Begley, Jr., Yust's adaptation has an atmosphere of naturalism and small town authenticity with its shots of pick-up trucks and townspeople in Fellows, California. The film has had many school showings in the United States, yet it encountered resistance in Massachusetts. Although the Encyclopædia Britannica series of classic short stories was approved by the board of Massachusetts Educational Television, Yust's film was eliminated from Massachusetts showings of the series by MET board members. The Encyclopædia Britannica is a general English-language encyclopaedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. ... Edward James Begley, Jr. ... Fellows is a census-designated place located in Kern County, California. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ...


Anthony Spinner adapted the story into a feature-length TV movie, The Lottery, which premiered September 29, 1996, on NBC. As expanded by Spinner, the annual lottery is held for religious reasons, and the thriller storyline highlights a love story with the crazed townsfolk and the sadistic lottery as the backdrop. Director Daniel Sackheim filmed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with a cast that included Keri Russell, Dan Cortese, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Corey, Salome Jens and M. Emmet Walsh. It was nominated for a 1997 Saturn Award for Best Single Genre Television Presentation. is the 272nd day of the year (273rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... Nickname: Motto: Youre Something Special in Winston-Salem Location in North Carolina Coordinates: , Country State Counties Forsyth County Founded Incorporated 1766 (Salem) 1849 (Winston) 1913 Government  - Mayor Allen Joines (D) Area  - City  132. ... Keri Lynn Russell (born March 23, 1976) is a Golden Globe-winning American actress and dancer. ... Dan Cortese (born September 14, 1967 near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American actor. ... Veronica Cartwright (born April 20, 1950 in Bristol, England) is an actress. ... Jeff Corey (August 10, 1914 — August 16, 2002) was an American stage and screen actor who became a well-respected acting teacher after being blacklisted in the 1950s. ... as the Female Changeling from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Salome Jens (born May 8, 1935 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an American actress. ... Michael Emmet Walsh (born March 22, 1935 in Ogdensburg, New York) is an American character actor who has appeared in over 100 film and television productions. ... The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. ...


The music videos for the songs—"So Cold" by Breaking Benjamin, "Man That You Fear" by Marilyn Manson, and "Pioneers" by From Autumn To Ashes—are based upon "The Lottery." The song "Red Lottery" by Megasus that is featured in Guitar Hero II is based upon "The Lottery". So Cold is an EP released by Breaking Benjamin. ... Breaking Benjamin is an alternative metal band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. ... This article is about the person. ... From Autumn to Ashes, or FATA, is an American Screamo outfit from Long Island. ... // Megasus is a Doom Metal band formed in Providence, Rhode Island in 2006. ... Guitar Hero II is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems and published by RedOctane. ...


The most recent adaptation is an 11-minute short film, The Lottery, directed by Augustin Kennady on location in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania for Aura Pictures Limited. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick and his parents portray the Hutchinson family. The Lottery is a short film adapted by screenwriter Anthony Rando from Shirley Jacksons short story of the same name. ... Augustin Kennady (b. ... Pen Argyl is a borough located in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. ... Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien Thorn in The Omen, 2006 Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick (born 1999) is an American actor. ...


The idea was adapted in an episode of Sliders called "Luck of the Draw". In the episode, the sliders land in a world where people who win the lottery get killed as well as get money, in order to control the population. Sliders is a science fiction television series that ran for five seasons from 1995 to 2000. ... Luck of the Draw is the final episode of the first season of the science fiction television series Sliders. ...


In an episode of Adult Swim's Squidbillies series villain Dan Halen fixes the lottery so that Early Cuyler wins an actual copy of the book, he eventually tries to execute Granny but instead of stoning her to death he attempts to have her ripped apart by monster trucks. This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ...


Listen to

References

  • Oppenheimer, Judy. Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. New York: Putnam, 1988.

See also

The Lottery in Babylon is a short story written by Jorge Luis Borges in 1941. ... Borges redirects here. ...

External links


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