The Lottery

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The Lottery
Written by: Shirley Jackson
Central Theme: Mob psychology, scapegoating
Synopsis:
First published: June 26, 1948

"The Lottery" is a 1948 short story written by Shirley Jackson, and first published in The New Yorker.

It's June 27th in a small American village. A village of three hundred people has prepared for this day as if it were another celebration, like a square dance or a Halloween program. This event, The Lottery, consists of pulling a townsperson's name, one by one, out of a splintery black box.

It would be any other quaint story if it weren't for the heavy symbolism. The story is Shirley Jackson's views on the pointlessness of violence and the inhumanity in the world, in each and every person and their own neighbors. Shirley Jackson received much hate mail for it, readers unsubscribed from The New Yorker, and the story was banned in the Union of South Africa (the precursor to modern-day South Africa). Today it is an often used School Study Medium.

It is probably best known as a staple of American Junior high/Middle School literature classes. It has been adapted into many kinds of media, such as radio, one-act plays, short films, a 1969 ballet, and a successful 1996 Made for TV Movie. Shout-Outs in other media are not uncommon, such as The Simpsons and South Park.

The full story can be read here.


Tropes used in The Lottery include: