The Lottery Introduction

The bad suckers who very first read the story in the June 26, 1948 worry of The brand-new Yorker.

You are watching: The lottery shmoop whats up with the title

We can imagine that now: a literary lad in a Don Draper fedora or a bookish lass in a fresh knee-length skirt. They upper and lower reversal to the table of contents and see a story, adorably titled "The Lottery." What might it be about? A sweet story around a poor guy who wins millions? A household that gets a new yacht? A woman who wins one all-expenses-paid expedition to the Bahamas?

And then they start reading. Pearls are clutched. Cigarettes room angrily crushed out. Innocence is lost.

Because "The Lottery" ain"t about that kind of lottery. It"s around a little Vermont city that stop a lottery to identify who...will it is in ritually stoned to death. Together in, stoned with rocks. Together in, killed by fellow townspeople throwing stones till the victim"s skull is crushed.

"The Lottery" doesn"t end with a joyous winner screaming, "I"m going to Disneyland!" that ends through a desperate woman screaming, "It isn"t fair, it isn"t right."

Unsurprisingly, this story caused major controversy once it was very first published. Shirley Jackson"s implicit critique that the brutality underlying the rituals and also values that America"s small towns overcome magazine readers, countless of who petulantly cancelled your New Yorker subscriptions. (Check out the Encyclopedia Britannica for an ext on the tale"s publication history.)The anonymous, generic village in which "The Lottery" is set, in enhancement to the vicious twist the story gives to a typical American ritual, enhanced the modern reader"s uneasy feeling that the group violence in the story could be taking place anywhere...or everywhere. Remember, guys: this to be 1948. The super-conservative 1950"s to be dawning. The Red Scare to be kicking off.

People really, really go not want to it is in reminded that the evil the lurked in the understanding of men...especially in a story that proved that angry triumphing over all-American family values. After all, WWII had just been completed. The great guys had actually won. Yet Shirley Jackon"s story hosted up one upsetting mirror to the American Dream and showed us that, also though fascism had actually been vanquished, there was still much more than enough terrifying insanity to walk around.

Luckily, enough people loved "The Lottery" that came to be one that the most widely-anthologized short stories of all time...and helped create Jackson"s position as one of the an excellent American fear writers.


What is The Lottery about and Why need to I Care?

If you"ve even had to talk to your mom (or pretty much any type of other government figure) you"ve most likely heard the refrain, "If your friends jumped turn off a bridge, would you jump, too?"

And your answer was more than likely "No." You"re no a lemming or a basic jumper; girlfriend don"t also like heights.

But Shirley Jackson think you"re lying. She think you—and anyone and also everyone—would gyeongju off that bridge if your neighborhood decided it to be necessary. According to her, while people may it is in great, a team of civilization is totality "nother animal.

An pet that eats that is own. "The Lottery" is a story that a little town usually devouring a member of its very own community. And also it"s among the most horrifying texts you"ll ever encounter. Forget Saw V or Hostel II: "The Lottery" is important terrifying. Prefer so many great horror stories, this one has actually a load of society commentary. "The Lottery" is like the world"s creepiest public business announcement versus peer pressure. It"s comparable to those after school specials that warn versus drinking beer or disobeying her parents—except Jackson is warning versus unthinkingly following along with a group. but we want to it is in clear: "The Lottery" isn"t about short-lived, peer pressure-fueled mass hysteria choose the Salem Witch Trials. No, this is about a regular, established ar ritual. Anyone in this sleepy vermouth town merely accepts the fact that, every when in a while, part neighbor or various other will be brutally killed via dull trauma.

In fact, world are psyched about Lottery Day, because the exclusion (and murder) of one person = a bonding suffer for the remainder of the community. This killing day is a cool tradition—the townspeople think the it choose a Thanksgiving fun Run or fourth of July Parade, just with a messier clean-up.Jackson is giving us every a clean warning around the risks of peer pressure. However unlike those after institution specials, she"s too smart come think that peer press is only something that happens come teenagers. And also she additionally knows that peer press doesn"t just turn dangerous as soon as it"s being used to fuel a happen fad.

Some the the many dangerous peer pressure deserve to come from much more established members of the community...and it deserve to masquerade as ar tradition. (Think the the epidemic that lynchings in the Jim crow South.)

So us think the question about jumping turn off a bridge should be tweaked to fit Jackson"s creepy story. If people started asking, "If everyone began throwing stones in ~ an chaste neighbor until they died, would you?" us think means more people would begin thinking for themselves.


The Lottery Resources

Movie or TV Productions

The Lottery, 1969Academic film Archive ranked this movie "as one of the two best-selling educational movies ever." It adheres to the story quite faithfully.

The Lottery, 1996This is the 1996, created TV version of Jackson"s classic. It attributes Keri Russell that Felicity.

The Lottery, 2007A 2007 brief film.


Part 1 the the 1969 filmThe movie is rather faithful come the story.

Part 2 that the 1969 filmVery disturbing.


Shirley JacksonA photograph of the author.

See more: Where To Buy Dandelion Greens, (And Which Store Aisle They’Re In)

Documents ArticleHere"s some further reading for those interested in learning more about the possible inspirations for "The Lottery."


Jackson study ResourcesFor those of girlfriend who desire to do added Jackson research.