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The Lottery Essays

26 samples in this category

‘The Lottery’ is a short story written by Shirley Jackson, an American author who wrote short stories and novels. It has been described as ‘one of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature.’ The story depicts a fictional small town in contemporary America, observing an annual ritual called ‘ the lottery.’ The purpose of the lottery is to choose a sacrificed victim of a human stoned to death to ensure the community continues well. When her story came out, many people thought her short story was related to the European Holocaust and she seemed to imply something horrible like the Holocaust might happen in America. The connection between the Holocaust story and ‘Lottery’ is seen as the phenomenon of blind ignorance and obedience to what a group value is.

First, in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,’ she represents the notion of the scapegoat as someone who is blamed for the evils of a society and banished to expel sin and allow for renewal. In her story, the ironic situation is used throughout the story from the beginning. The lottery makes people think about rewards and prizes, certainly not the death of a human. Therefore, when readers see the title, they don’t know the lottery, which in this case means being stoned to death. The lottery in her story involves violence because, in the end, Tessie Hutchinson is stoned to death by her friends and neighbors. Besides, she also portrays how the community who friendly and happy to participate in the senseless violent ritual simply because they have always held the lottery. It reflects people are blindly following what other people are doing dangerously. Because they are superstitious, they believe that the sacrifice of an innocent citizen brings an increase in the harvest yield. This is an unacceptance reason for the tradition of the lottery to justify the actions and outlook on this evil ritual. Based on these points, people can be easily swayed and believe that even murder is justified if they are instructed to do so by someone or something, they deem a trustworthy authority figure. Through her story, she shows us the dangers of blindly following traditions to compel readers to not follow anyone or any group. Besides, this topic is related to many events that have happened in the past of the world but mainly an event called the Holocaust.

Secondly, the connection between the historical event “the Holocaust’ and the ‘Lottery’ story is the danger of blinding following tradition. This historical event is called the Holocaust. The Holocaust, also known as Shoah, was the Holocaust during World War II. From 1941 to 1945, throughout German-occupied Europe, the Nazis and collaborators murdered about six million Jews, about two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe. The Nazis systematically killed the Jews from orders from Hitler because he was affected growing up in a town where the mayor was extremely anti-Semitic. In addition, many non-Jews helped the Nazis to kill Jews just because they wanted to follow the Nazis. This relates to how the villagers, in the Lottery, kill a careless person who oversees the absurdity that tradition holds. It clearly identifies the topic of the dangers of traditional blindness.

Thirdly, the Nazi soldiers who committed atrocities during the Holocaust could be far more than the villagers. For example, Nazi soldiers killed millions of Jews and whoever they ordered their enemies. In the short story town of Jackson, the villagers only kill Tessie. However, neither the villagers nor the soldiers felt sorry for their actions. The reason is the lottery and the promise of a bumper crop that allows people to stone to death their neighbors, friends, and even their families. In fact, according to the term Hitler Oath of Loyalty for All-State Officials since August 20, 1934, this oath allows soldiers to do what they did to innocent people without the need to anticipate.

“I swear I will be true and obedient to the Führer of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler, observe the law, and conscientiously fulfill the duties of my office, so help me God.”

In addition, the authority figure’s character makes people easier for people to obey. During the lottery, Mr. Summers held a terrifying amount of power in the village, power which seemed to be assigned arbitrarily to him. He finished controlling the lottery, but nobody ever doubted his ability. He didn’t withdraw his name on the lottery day, but he also created pieces of paper to go into the black box. It faces him to create the last black circle that condemns someone to death. However, the author never explained why the villagers put such pure belief in Mr. Summers and assumed that he would continue to conduct the lottery as just an inexplicable but universally accepted part of the ritual. This shows a very strong sense of obedience and admiration for Mr. Summers like the obedience and admiration of Hitler by the German people. Likewise, Germans and Nazi soldiers committed these abhorrent crimes against Jews because they considered Jews to be detrimental to their economy and country. In general, people are known to find various reasons for their cruelty, especially if they are required by a competent figure.

In conclusion, in the short story, ‘ The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson, Jackson shows us a wonderful experience of the dangers of traditional blindness through an odd ritual that takes place every year in a small town. In this ritual, whoever wins, is stoned to death by the people and others. In this case, the stoning of Tessie is a great example of how people dangerously blindly follow tradition. This topic is related to many events that have happened in the past of the world but mainly an event called the Holocaust. Shirley Jackson excellently demonstrates evidence of the dangers of traditional blindness and the Holocaust. As for today, and as look back on the past, people should make objective comments before we have been doing rituals or traditions. That makes people avoid doing it blindly and dangerously.

Work Cited

  1. “Hitler Oath.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 July 2019,
  2. Jackson, Shirley. “Fiction by Shirley Jackson: The Lottery.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2018,
  3. “The Holocaust.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Sept. 2019,
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