The Lottery: An Honorable Sacrifice? Essay

The Lottery: An Honorable Sacrifice? Essay

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In 1948 the New Yorker Magazine published a short story written by Shirley Jackson entitled “The Lottery.” This story begins June 27th, a clear and sunny day at ten o’clock in the morning. Clear and sunny could be indicative of a happy cheerful story; however, as this story progresses there are no discoveries of a happy ending at all. “The Lottery” is a tale of a horrible death, in which a small farming society considered to be a necessary sacrifice for the good of their crops. Tessie Hutchinson was stoned to death without remorse, because she was the “winner” of the town’s lottery. In “The Lottery” Jackson uses an interesting and unique approach to demonstrate the attributes of a male dominated society; as well as weave in religious symbolism along with the ultimate sacrifice of life.
Before the year 1848, most of America was dominated by the male population. The town in “The Lottery” is set in a more modern time than 1848; however, it appears to be completely run by the men. Jackson depicts the men of the town as being official and enterprising; talking of tractors and taxes. The women are portrayed as gossiping housewives wearing faded house dresses and sweaters. Tessie, one of the housewives, was late because she was home washing the dishes. She states to Mrs. Delacroix, “Clean forgot what day it was. Thought my old man was out back stacking wood,” she went on. “And then I looked out the window and the kids were gone, then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh.” She then proceeds to the front of the crowd to be with her husband. Several men, such as Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves play prominent roles in the story, but one man seems to be more outspoken than the rest. Mr. Warner follows a tradition that he has been ...

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... many traditions, both historically and modern, worldwide that most outsiders would consider crazy. Similar to Jackson’s story there are many regions of the world which an “honorable death” is a dark and corrupt tradition. In the Middle East, for example, devout Islamic fundamentalists practice an old tradition of killing women who stray from their religious requirements and obligations. This sacrifice is believed to restore religious honor to the woman’s soul and her father’s family. This event is unimaginable to most modern societies, but it is the tradition of honor within the fundamentalist faction of Islam. Based on Jackson’s story, I believe the characters looked at the ultimate sacrifice of death as honorable and necessary to fulfill this ritual. A ritual that will continue annually without hesitation…or, until Mr. Warner pulls the “winning” ticket!

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