“The Lottery” written by Shirley Jackson was published in “The New Yorker” in 26th June, 1948 issue. The story was published at a time when there was a sense of euphoria amongst the public just after the World War II, and people were keen to hear and read positive and good things about life. Jackson’s story could not have been published at a more erroneous time. The readers associated the story with real life events and felt that Jackson purposely trampled on the values and traditions of small town American. The lottery event depicted in the story was thought to be fictionalization of the lottery draw held in Lexington, Mississipi. Readers felt that the story depicted brutality in a most casual manner. Small town American people were taken as a symbolic mean to depict the inherent evil and inhuman nature of people, camouflaged by their outer seemingly harmless personality. Jackson showed that below the façade of a happy go lucky lifestyle, their lurk evilness of mind. The story is a veiled attempt at depicting how the seemingly harmless and simple souls in small towns can go to the extent of actually cheering a horrendous act of killing a lady through public stoning (Voth, 2005).
The whole story depicting preparation of lottery event and the festive mood that prevailed gave the reader a somewhat false feeling of happy and content atmosphere of a small town. So it comes as a shock when the story finally unfolds to give a totally different picture and people’s casualness in the face of an impending barbarous act, as was shown in the story, keeps the readers wondering why at all Jackson highlighted such callous and insensitive attitudes through small town people of America. Although the set up is mundane, the story is surreal and do not relate to present day set up. Rather than symbolic, the story shows barbaric acts of stoning which is far removed from the civilized society.
Jackson, S (1948) “ The Lottery”, The New Yorker, June 26th, 1948, p.25, Retrieve from the American Literature Library online, from the url: http://www.americanliterature.com/Jackson/SS/TheLottery.html on 20th Oct’ 08
Voth, L (2005) Analysis of “ The Lottery”, a short story by Shirley Jackson, published Nov 21, Associated Content, retrieved from the url: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/14390/analysis_of_the_lottery_a_short_story.html?cat=38 on 20th Oct, 2008