The Lottery By Shirley Jackson Essay Questions

The Lottery By Shirley Jackson Essay Questions-78
It is reenacted year after year, then, not because it is a mere "tradition," as Helen Nebeker argues, but because it serves the repressive ideological function of purging the social body of all resistance so that business (capitalism) can go on as usual and the Summers, the Graves and the Martins can remain in power. The first of these rules I have already explained, of course: those who control the village economically and politically also administer the lottery.The remaining rules also tell us much about who has and who doesn't have power in the village's social hierarchy.

When her family is chosen in the first round, Tessie Hutchinson objects that her daughter and son-in-law didn't "take their chance." Mr.

Summers has to remind her, "Daughters draw with their husbands' families" (p. Power in the village, then, is exclusively consolidated into the hands of male heads of families and households.

I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to chock the story's readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.".

Jackson's husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, has written in his introduction to a posthumous anthology of her short stories that "she consistently refused to be interviewed, to explain or promote her work in any fashion, or to take public stands and be the pundit of the Sunday supplements." that it was impossible for her to explain approximately what her story was about, only that it was "difficult." That she thought it meant something, and something subversive, moreover, she revealed in her response to the Union of South Africa's banning of "The Lottery": "She felt," Hyman says, "that A survey of what little has been written about "The Lottery" reveals two general critical attitudes: first, that it is about man's ineradicable primitive aggressivity, or what Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren call his "all-too-human tendency to seize upon a scapegoat"; second, that it describes man's victimization by, in Helen Nebeker's words, "unexamined and unchanging traditions which he could easily change if he only realized their implications." Missing from both of these approaches, however, is a careful analysis of the abundance of social detail that links the lottery to the ordinary social practices of the village. Here we have to ask a Marxist question: what relationship is there between his interests as the town's wealthiest businessman and his officiating the lottery?

Graves says, "[takes] the same chance" seems eminently democratic, even if its effect, the singing out of one person for privilege or attack, is not. suggests 'election' rather than selection," since "the [villagers] assemble in the center of the place, in the village square." I would like to push the analogy further.

One critic, noting an ambiguity at the story's beginning, has remarked that "the lottery . In capitalist dominated elections, business supports and promotes candidates who will be more or less attuned to its interests, multiplying its vote through campaign financing, while each individual businessman can claim that he has but one vote.They make their first appearance "wearing faded house dresses . Having sketched some of the power relations within the families of the village, I can now shift my attention to the ways in which what I have called the democratic illusion of the lottery diverts their attention from the capitalist economic relations in which these relations of power are grounded.On its surface, the idea of a lottery in which everyone, as Mrs. Students should discuss the essay with each other and in their classrooms. Students and teachers are free to copy and quote it for scholarly purposes, but publishers should contact me before they reprint it for profit.These three most powerful men who control the town, economically as well as politically, also happen to administer the lottery. Fourth, this work ethic prevents them from understanding that the lottery's actual function is not to encourage work of labor.Finally, after working through these points, it will be easier to explain how Jackson's choice of Tessie Hutchinson as the lottery's victim/scapegoat reveals the lottery to be an ideological mechanism which serves to defuse the average villager's deep, inarticulate dissatisfaction with the social order in which he lives by channeling it into anger directed at the of that social order.Women, who have no direct link to the economy as defined by capitalism--the arena of activity in which labor is exchanged for wages and profits are made--choose in the lottery only in the absence of a "grown," working male. When Tessie Hutchinson appears late to the lottery, other men address her husband Bill, "here comes your Missus, Hutchinson" (p. None of the men, that is to say, thinks of addressing Tessie first, since she "belongs" to Bill.Women, then, have a distinctly subordinate position in the socio-economic hierarchy of the village. Most women in the village take this patriarchal definition of their role for granted, as Mrs. Delacroix's references to their husbands as their "old [men]" suggests (pp. Tessie, as we shall see later, is the only one who rebels against male domination, although only unconsciously.One can imagine the average reader of Jackson's story protesting: But we engage in no such inhuman practices.Why are you accusing us of she broke down and said the following in response to persistent queries from her readers about her intentions: "Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult.


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