There are many stories in which the author purposely makes the story vague until the end, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson is a great example of this. Around ten o’ clock, June 27th was a very vivid day in the lives of the villagers, It was a beautiful summer day, the wind was slight and the flowers in full bloom. This was in fact an odd setting for the events that will take place in the future. The lottery actually started on the 26th, but this was a rather large town so the actual drawing took around three hours to complete, which made it easy for people to make it home for lunchtime.
Since it is summer the children all come down to the meeting place, which was between the post office and the bank first. They weren’t very long out of school, so the chatter between them usually was school related. Bobby Martin already jammed a few rocks into his pockets, while the others quickly followed suit. Harry and Bobby Jones, along with Dickie Delacroix started to make piles of stones in the corners. The girls just talked to themselves, and the really young ones played in the dust, or just tagged along with their older brothers. After this the men started to gather around the children.
They were now talking about “planting and rain, tractors and taxes. ” Shortly after this the wives started to gather around the husbands, and then reluctantly at first all the children started to join their families. Mr. Summers had much time to devote to his civic duties, “was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him, because he had no children and his wife was a scold. He arrived on the scene with his little black box, along with Mr. Graves the postmaster. Mr. Graves brought the three-legged stool, which was barely usable by now.
Mr. Martin, and his oldest Baxter helped Mr. Summers situate the box onto the stool. Originally there was another box, but ever since before Old Man Warner’s days, He was the oldest man in town. Slips of paper now replaced the chips of wood used in the old times. The argument was that the slips of paper, were fine and dandy when the town was small, but since the growth of it, the wood chips would no longer fit into the box. The night before the lottery the slips were made by the duo, they took it to the safe at Mr. Summer’s coal company until it was needed.
As for the rest of the year, it was kept somewhere for safekeeping. There used to be a whole ritual associated with the lottery, but now they just made up the lists of the families, there was a swearing in of Mr. Summers, but the postmaster only did this now. A ritual chant used to follow the proceeding, but now this along with the salute was gone. Mr. Summers wore jeans and a clean white shirt, and kept one hand on the box at all times, and when people came up to draw he would speak with them.
Mrs. Hutchinson ran into the crowd and took a spot between Mrs. Delacroix and her husband, she then told them that she forgot what today was, and looked around for Mr. Hutchinson. She located him and then bid her farewell to Mrs. Delacroix as she made her way to the crowd. Mrs. Hutchinson talked with her husband for a few before Mr. Summers protested that the lottery should begin. Clyde Dunbar had broken his leg, so he couldn’t attend the lottery, his wife would draw for him, since their son was only sixteen. Jack Watson drew for his mother and him, this year as several villagers praised him for this.
Old Man Warner spoke up from the crowd to let it be known he was present as well. The heads of families were to go up and draw first as was said by Mr. Summers, but most of the villagers had done this so many times, that they barely listened to the man. The drawing started, Mr. Adams was the first to go, and then all the way at the end Mr. Zanini took his paper. Everyone opened their paper, and then the noises started coming out of the crowd, everyone wanted to know who got the paper. Mr. Hutchinson had received the winner.
Mrs. Hutchinson protested that the lottery was unfair, but then the slip was placed in the box along with the other three from the family. Bill Hutchinson was ready. A slip of paper was taken by Davy. Nancy, who was twelve, took her paper, and then Bill Jr. took his, Tessie Hutchinson took hers. Bill drew his last. Old Man Warner protested that it wasn’t like the old days, and another girl stated that she hoped Nancy didn’t win. Nancy and Bill Jr. opened there’s and saw that they were blank. Bill opened his also, and a sigh came from the crowd as the blank paper was revealed.
Bill forced the paper out of his wives hand, and saw that it had the dark mark on it. Although the original ritual was forgotten, the villagers did not forget about the stones. Mrs. Hutchinson cried out as a stone struck her on the side of her head. The villagers came upon her, and she screamed, ” It ain’t fair, it isn’t right”, but the crowd surrounded her now, hitting her with rocks from all sides. As I started to read this story, I believed that it would be based on a modern lottery, such as we are used to, in which a person pays a dollar for a chance at millions, and this idea wasn’t quickly abandoned.
I could have never told you about what time period this was; because it was all very vague, this was purposely done, but left me wondering about the whole story. I used context clues, which said that they had a post office, and a bank, which made this story seem slightly more modern to me. As the crowd grew, I would have imagined everyone to be more solemn then they were, but the idea of a stoning never had crossed my mind, until I read through. I found it to be quite ironic, that Mrs. Hutchinson had showed up late to the drawing, due to the fact that she had lost track of days.
I could only imagine what was going through her head as she opened the slip of paper to find a dark mark placed on it. There are still several mysteries to the story as I finished. I still do not understand the purpose of the drawing, was it to keep down the population, or merely a town ritual, whose importance and meaning had been forgotten. There was little known about the ritual, which I also found to be extremely misleading. I also found it to be quite odd that Mr. Hutchinson did not take the stoning for his wife or if this was allowed.
I almost totally deduced that Tessie Hutchinson was to die from this stoning of sorts, but this was another clue that was left in the air. I’m sure in all cases that she did pass away. I also found it very sick and twisted about how such a violent and inhumane lottery was conducted with such an eerie professionalism. It also disturbed me about how the women who all seemed to be friends with the woman were the first to deliver blows to her head, if this was done to put her out of her misery quickly, or just a violent torture Is also left up to the reader.
The reason why this story interested me the most was because of all of this left up for the imagination, and the total reversal of the tone and mood of the story at the end, which was almost Poe-like. Even thought I do not agree at all with the topic of the story, or it’s message, I found it to be particularly interesting, in a crude way. I believe that it kept my interest throughout the whole story, and there was an excellent use of foreshadowing, as well as the mesh of the younger and older traditions and values done by Ms. Jackson. This was an immensely ironic twist from the beginning of the story, and I enjoyed it greatly.