Thyness And Nervousness In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

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When “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson was first published in 1948, there were different reactions to it. Most people were terrified and off put that such a story should be published, but there were others who wanted to know where it happened “so that they could go and watch” (Hicks 1). In a way, that is an example of what the story was trying to show; humans, by nature, are fearful and apathetic towards other people. The story seems to take place in a recent time and in a civilized community. Almost as if it were happening now; though it is hard to even think that something like that could happen, especially here in America, which is where it seems to be taking place. As Cleveland puts it, “The crimes being committed here are not illegal,…show more content…
While everyone else seems to be anxious about the day, Tessie seems rather enthusiastic. Tessie even exclaims that she “remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running '” (Jackson 373). She seems to see the lottery as “one great lark” and urges her husband to go pick a paper when his name is called (Yarmove 1). For a moment, one can assume that the nervousness in the story is just because everyone wants to win due to Tessie’s excitement, as she seems to be a main character, and is so enthusiastic about the day while to others, you can see that this is not something that they really wanted to take place in in the first place. There are a few members of the town who seem to want nothing to do with the lottery; one of those being Janey, whose husband is unable to participate due to a broken leg (Jackson 373). Once the event is over, though, one can come to the conclusion that she has recently lost a son to the lottery. As Nebeker notes, Mr. Summer’s asked if she had a grown son to draw for her, even though everyone knew that she didn’t, which could imply that she did at one time have a son who would have been able to draw for her, but he was last year’s victim (4); Nebeker notes that this also explains the “unusual encouragement” Janey receives (4). This theory could lead one to believe that Mr. Dunbar’s broken leg may have been an intentional way of avoiding the…show more content…
Carol Cleveland notes that it’s not until the final moments of the story that we realize the chosen person will be sacrificed (1). Once everyone has drawn, people begin to ask “Is it the Dunbars? Is it that Watsons?” (Jackson 375) as they would suspect that a past victim had been picked again. As Nebeker explains, “Surely, at least the elder Watson—and maybe others in the family—has been a previous victim of the rite” (4). It’s cruel that the people of the town would hope that the families who had already lost a member be chosen once again. Tessie’s cheerful personality about the lottery finally vanishes once she realizes that her husband had picked the paper with the dot (Jackson 375). Only now does the lottery seem unfair to her; it is also where the reader realizes what a terrible, selfish person Tessie is. First, Tessie claims that Mr. Summers hadn’t given Mr. Hutchinson enough time to choose (Jackson 375). Then, as Yarmove writes, Tessie shows her deceitful side when she tries to make her two married daughters partake in the next draw so that she will have a better change to survive (2). Finally, the family each choose the next group of papers. Her children, Bill jr. and Nancy Don’t seem to care at all that their mother is about to be killed; in fact, they instead are “exuberantly grateful,” and turn around laughing when they see that their paper had no
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