The Lottery – A Short Story

info Jun 21, 2024

The lottery is a form of gambling where the participants purchase tickets for a chance to win money or other prizes. It is a common fund-raising method, especially for charitable and municipal purposes in developed countries. Prizes are usually cash or goods. Ticket sales are typically subsidized by public funds. The lottery is criticized for the risk of compulsive gambling and its regressive effect on lower-income populations, but it is also promoted as a way to provide public services without raising taxes.

This short story by Shirley Jackson takes place in a small town in an unnamed state on June 27th, the day of their annual lottery. The narrator first describes the bucolic setting and introduces the villagers as they begin to assemble in their town square. The children are the first to assemble, and they occupy themselves with a game of aggregating and sorting stones. Adult men and women soon join them. The narrator notes that the lottery has a long history in this town and that the villagers respect the sense of tradition conferred on the black box.

As the villagers continue to gather, their conversation and behavior become increasingly hostile, particularly towards Tessie Hutchinson. The narrator then introduces Mr. Summers, the organizer and master of ceremonies for the lottery. He carries out the ritual, which is similar to that of the other villages in the region. The villagers revere the black box and its ancient origins, although they have little knowledge of its purpose.