The Lottery Study Guide

On a warm sunny day, all the villagers gathered to kill their randomly chosen neighbor. They had repeated this ritual for many ages. What forced them to be so cold-hearted and narrow-minded? Why did the first readers of the short story get insulted with the plot? What does Shirley Jackson teach us? The Lottery Study Guide will give you answers to these and many other cultural and historical questions that the story encompasses.

The Lottery Key Facts

Full Title The Lottery
Author Shirley Jackson
Genre Horror short story
Date of Publishing 26 June 1948
Setting (Time) 27 June of any historical era
Setting (Place) The main square of a small rural town

The Lottery Articles

The Lottery: Summary

Despite a quite optimistic and positive beginning of The Lottery, the reader will soon find out that something feels off about it. The community uses the lottery to pick one person for a sacrifice.

The Lottery: Characters

This article contains all the information about the characters in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson: Tessie Hutchinson, Bill Hutchinson, Mr. Summers, Old Man Warner, and others. In the first section, you’ll find The Lottery character map.

The Lottery: Analysis

What is the main theme in The Lottery? What do stones and the black box symbolize? There are so many questions to attend to about this story, so this article is here to help you out!

The Lottery: Essay Topics & Samples

Did you receive a task to write an essay on The Lottery by Shirley Jackson? Have no idea where to start? Don’t panic! We have created this list of the best ideas for the essay to help you out!

Historical Context of The Lottery

Shirley Jackson wrote The Lottery three years after the termination of WWII. Holocaust and other atrocities committed by the Nazi aggressors showed how many ordinary people were (and are always) ready to commit violence against the innocent.  

The Great Depression finished in 1939, leaving Americans with the idea that everyone is for himself. Many companies and individuals go bankrupt. If you wanted to survive, you had to be rough and egoistic.

The third clue that helps us understand the story is the beginning of the Cold War. It was marked with rising American nationalism and blind patriotism. These themes show up when the villagers follow pointless rules like sheep.

These historical events reflect in all the mid-century American literature. The Lottery shows us the disgusting results of selfishness. The villagers never care about the summer ritual and their actions unless they are chosen. The violence seems fair and reasonable: it assures good crops. Nobody questions the mechanism of this rite. Traditions are inherently good, and everyone who wants to interfere is an enemy. Most people dislike the lottery, but they are afraid of what might happen if they disobey.

We should also view The Lottery in the context of sexism that was prevalent in the decade. Apart from the unequal distribution of domestic duties, companies often fired women to provide employment to men who returned after the war. The short story has multiple allusions to gender inequality.

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