The Lottery Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” portrays a small town in which the citizens gather for a yearly lottery. Unlike the “typical” lottery, this is not one you would want to win. Throughout “The Lottery,” Jackson focuses on families from the village in order to demonstrate the role of separation of genders. Gender is defined as the sexual identity of a person, especially in relation to society or culture. Gender divisions exist within the community in “The Lottery” and issues of gender help to explain the characters action and thoughts. During the lottery, everyone is equal and the society is genderless. Although the men draw as the head of the household, the women partake in the final rounds and the stoning of the victim. This is evident when “Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands”(200). This shows that even though women did not normally participate in town events, the lottery was an exception to the rule. Young girls were also equal to young boys during this event. Both the girls and the boys stoned the victim along with the rest of the community, regardless of gender. This suggests that the lottery serves as a great equalizer abolishing all forms of separation of gender. Despite this equality during the lottery, gender does drive this story. Division of labor is evidence that a separation of gender exists. Due to the fact that Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves are men in the village, they are given the opportunity to administer the lotter. By having this chance, they gain the ability to prove to the people in the community that men are the holders of the highest positions. In his making of the list, Mr. Summers imposes his power upon the community, by determining who will draw from the box first. Gender plays a role in the purpose of the lottery. The lottery is set up to show women that by producing more children, they will lessen their chances of being chosen. This is due to the fact that in larger families, the chance of one person being chosen is reduced significantly with each additional member of teh family. The opposite is true for small families. Because women are the producers of children, they are the main target of the lottery. They are encouraged to produce more children, thereby taking upon even more responsibilities as a housewife. The social status of women in this society shows that division of gender exists. Contrary to the superiority of men, women were disenfranchised in this village. The role of women in this society is that they are to be at home with their children while their husbands work. Jackson portrays women as “wearing faded house dresses and sweaters…standing by their husbands”(195). This shows their lack of power and low placement in society. Bill Hutchinson proves his authority over his wife when he “forced the slip of paper out of his wife’s hand” in order to determine who in his family would be the victim(200). They were thought of as housewives and were not given the privilege of representing their family under most circumstances. This, of course, puts women at a disadvantage. Another disadvantage for the women is that when they marry, they must draw with their husband’s famliy in the lottery. Since the men are to chose the slip, the women have no say in their own fate and must accept the responsibility if their family is chosen. Only if her family is chosen, is she allowed to pick a slip, determining if she will be stoned to death. This is evident when Mr. Summers asks Mrs. Dunbar who will be drawing for her husband due to his absence in the lottery. She replies “Me, I guess”. Mr. Summers answers with astonishment, “wife draws for husband, don’t you have a grown boy to do it for you”(196-7). The same is true of Mrs. Hutchinson who leaves her housework in order to attend the lottery. Mrs. Hutchinson, forgetting what day it was, “dried her hands on her apron” and hurried to be with the rest of the people from the village(196). Before attending the lottery, she is required to
The Lottery, a short story written by Shirley Jackson, is a tale of disturbing evilness. The setting is a small
village consisting of about 300 residents. On June 27th of every year the members of the community hold
a village-wide lottery in which everyone is expected to participate. Throughout the story the reader gets an
odd feeling regarding the residents. Although they are gathering for a lottery drawing there is an air of
nervousness about the event. From start to finish there is an overwhelming sense that something terrible is
about to happen due to the authors in depth use of foreshadowing.
The first hint that something strange is happening
is brought to our attention in the second paragraph.
After Jackson describes the summer morning, she alludes to
the children gathering in the Village Square, but they are
acting quite strange. “Bobby Martin had already stuffed
his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed
his exampleeventually made a great pile of stones in one
corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of
the other boys” (Text, 782). The first question we must
ask is why are the boys piling stones up in the village
square? At the very least we know that the stones will
play an important role in the final outcome.
Each following paragraph contains subtle clues as
to what is going to unfold. After all of the children
have gathered the men begin to fill the square, followed
by all of the women. “They stood together, away from the
pile of stones in the corner” (Text, 783). The fact that
the stood away from the stones, again, informs the reader
that the stones play some sinister role. Nervousness
amongst the people is evident due to the children’s
reluctance to join their parents standing in the square.
At this point in the story the reader should have a
feeling that the lottery being described isn’t going
to have a pleasant outcome for someone in the population.
One particular line on page 784, in the last
paragraph, gives the reader direction in realizing
the lottery payoff. The narrator describes
Mrs. Hutchinson’s entrance saying, “She tapped Mrs.
Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make
her way through the crowd.” The word “farewell” is used
as foreshadowing to the climax of the story.
Normally when a person enters a crowd of people they are
greeted, but not Mrs. Hutchinson for she is obviously
Nearer the climax the hints of foreshadowing almost give
away the secret. Old Man Warner says, “Bad enough to see
young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody”
(Text, 786), thus indicating that the lottery was no joking
matter. It is obviously going to make a major impact on
somebody’s life. The people knew that every year there was
going to be a lottery, and they maintained a sense of
humor to accompany their disgruntlement. Engaging in the
drawing was a necessity to them, and for reasons not
discussed, they accepted it.
Another reference to the seriousness of the
occasion is described when Mr. Summers (the lottery
official) says, “Well nowguess we better get started,
get this over with, so we can get back to work.
Anybody ain’t here?” (Text, 785). Once again it doesn’t
sound like the people involved are too anxious to find out
who will be the “lucky winner”. When Mr. Summers begins
calling names, the residents nervously present themselves,
unaware of their destiny, to pull slips of paper out of
the little black lottery box. Nobody is to look at their
slip of paper until all of the members of the village had
drawn. This action adds suspense to the story.
The reader will not know what is about to happen until
the very end of the story unless they have picked up on
Jackson’s strong use of foreshadowing.
The story finally begins to unfold as everyone
examines the individual slips.
“For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of
paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak
at once, saying, ‘Who is it?”Bill Hutchinson’s got it'”
(Text, 787). Doomsday is upon the Hutchinson’s, and the
Missus is screaming