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The Lottery is a short story by Shirley Jackson, written just months before its first publication, in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker. When it was released, it drew a lot of negative response – surprising the author and The New Yorker both. People cancelled their subscriptions of the paper. The story was banned in the Union of South Africa. Today, it is an important part of the Curriculum in American Schools.
The Lottery is about an an unusual, annual village tradition held to ensure a good harvest. Contemporary small-town Amercian Life embroiders the tradition known as ” The Lottery” . In a village of about 300 houses, people are excited yet nervous about the lottery on the 27thof June. The children are collecting stones while the adults are preparing and gathering for the lottery, There is an ominous saying in the book, ‘Lottery by June, heavy corn be soon’. Though there are rumors that the towns of the North are planning to give up the lottery and some have already given up, the town continues its preparation in right earnest. The lottery preparations start the night before, as Mr Summers and Mr. Greaves prepare paper slips for all the residents of the village, and store them inside a sealed box. The box is safely stored at the coal company. There is brief information of how the box was placed at other places of the town at different years.The people gather in the morning around 10 A.M. hoping to be finished by lunch time. Thevillagers gather together at one place, as everyone is nervous about the lottery. For the first round, all the household leaders, or the men of the house above 16 years of age have to pick out a chit, or a paperslip. Bill Hutchinson gets a slip with a black mark, which meant that Mr. Hutchinson’s family had beenchosen for round 2. Round 2 required any of the family members to pick out a slip, so Mr. Hutchinson’s family draws the slips. The second draw did not have any age requirements or anything, and Tessie( Bill’s wife) gets a marked slip, which meant that she was selected. As the terms of the ritual dictated, the slips were let loose in theair, and were allowed to fly away, while each village resident obtains a stone and surrounds Tessie. The story ends quite remarkably- with Tessie stoned to death as she complains about the unfairness of the situation.
One of the themes that the book brings to the forefront is of a scapegoat – finding some one who will take the fall for Society’a failures. Sounds too familiar in the Indian context, doesn’t it ?
Many T.V. shows, radio shows and movies have been adapted from the book.The book has also been adapted by various educational institutions , and has been rated as a must‐read by various critics. The uniqueness that this book hides within itself simply raises its standards, and this book is definitely worth a read,and you’ll find yourself wanting for more. For sure, our Indian Institutions will not be able to include in their curricula – due to the inflammable content.
Getting to the business end,
Writing :- 4/5
Story :- 4.5/5
Overall one should read this periodically. They will always find something new!
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