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The Lottery

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The Lottery--Shirley Jackson
"The Lottery" (1948) by Shirley Jackson
Discussion Questions:
1. Were you surprised by the ending of the story? If not, at what point did you know
what was going to happen? How does Jackson start to foreshadow the ending in
paragraphs 2 and 3? Conversely, how does Jackson lull us into thinking that this is
just an ordinary story with an ordinary town?
Yes, I was surprised by the ending. I only came to realize what was going to happen in the
end. The lottery changed into an event of stoning a town’s person, Tessie Hutchinson.
Jackson lulls us into believing that this is a story of an ordinary town when he explains that
the town has had these rituals for years and although some had started to fade away with
time, the lottery still remained. In paragraphs two and three, Jackson foreshadows the ending
when he says that Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets with the smoothest and
roundest stones and that every parent gathered with their children.
2. Where does the story take place? In what way does the setting affect the story? Does
it make you more or less likely to anticipate the ending?
The story takes place in the square between the post office and the bank. This setting
plays a major role in concealing the true intentions of the town`s tradition. This setting
makes one more likely to anticipate the ending of a joyous ceremony such as winning the
lottery and not stoning of a person.
3. In what ways are the characters differentiated from one another? Looking back at the
story, can you see why Tessie Hutchinson is singled out as the "winner"?
The characters are differentiated from one another by their names following the head of the
household and family. Tessie Hutchinson is singled out as the winner because she is a
member of the Hutchinson`s household. This raises suspicion because before the second
drawing, Bill Hutchinson was to be the winner. This further goes to show conspiracy against
the Hutchinson`s household.
4. What are some examples of irony in this story? For example, why might the title,
"The Lottery," or the opening description in paragraph one, be considered ironic?
Irony begins with the name of the story, The Lottery. This makes the reader to anticipate a
happy ending which is not the case. Another irony is how the writer describes the morning of
June 27
th
as a beautiful and warm morning and thus the reader does not expect such a sad
ending.

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5. Jackson gives interesting names to a number of her characters. Explain the possible
allusions, irony or symbolism of some of these:
l
Delacroix- The writer uses this name to show satire when Mrs. Delacroix says `there goes
my old man. `
l
Graves- Here, the irony is in the name and where Mrs. Graves says `we`re next.` The ending
signifies the death of Tessie Hutchinson.
l
Summers- This is used to show irony where as one would expect that with summer comes
joyous activities, this one is specifically used to hide death.
Hutchinson- This name is used to allude the end result is death.
l
Bentham This name is used to symbolize ritual.
l
Warner The irony here is when Mrs. Summers asks Mr. Warner, `Old Man Warner will
you make it? `
l
Martin This name is used to symbolize the head of the family.
7. Take a close look at Jackson's description of the black wooden box (paragraph 5) and of
the black spot on the fatal slip of paper (paragraph 72). What do these objects suggest to
you? Why is the black box described as "battered"? Are there any other symbols in the story?
Jackson describes the black box to signify a coffin and the black spot to imply the area where
Tessie would be stoned to death. The black box is described as battered to mean the cause of
death would be stoning and use of violence.
8. What do you understand to be the writer's own attitude toward the lottery and the stoning?
Exactly what in the story makes her attitude clear to us?
The writer is aggravated and saddened by how a town would keep such malicious activities
as traditions and follow them to the latter. His attitude is seen by the use of irony to hide the
truth which he eventually reveals so clear.
9. This story satirizes a number of social issues, including the reluctance of people to reject
outdated traditions, ideas, rules, laws, and practices. What kinds of traditions, practices, laws,
etc. might "The Lottery" represent?
The story represents corruption practiced by leaders, mob justice, use of violence and
domestic violence as some practices that have taken root in a society and should be
abandoned.
10. This story was published in 1948, just after World War II. What other cultural or
historical events, attitudes, institutions, or rituals might Jackson be satirizing in this story?

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The Lottery--Shirley Jackson "The Lottery" (1948) by Shirley Jackson Discussion Questions: 1. Were you surprised by the ending of the story? If not, at what point did you know what was going to happen? How does Jackson start to foreshadow the ending in paragraphs 2 and 3? Conversely, how does Jackson lull us into thinking that this is just an ordinary story with an ordinary town? Yes, I was surprised by the ending. I only came to realize what was going to happen in the end. The lottery changed into an event of stoning a town’s person, Tessie Hutchinson. Jackson lulls us into believing that this is a story of an ordinary town when he explains that the town has had these rituals for years and although some had started to fade away with time, the lottery still remained. In paragraphs two and three, Jackson foreshadows the ending when he says that Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pock ...
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