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Marxist Criticism

“A stone hit her on the side of the head” (Jackson). According to an internet source the author, Shirley Jackson wrote the short story in 1948. It was published in the New Yorker and was controversial for many years. Jackson refused to make any comment other than, “Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story's readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives” (Shirley Jackson). In the short story The Lottery, Jackson shows how positions of power are important to the characters that possess them and have consequences for other characters.
The short story The Lottery emphasized that some characters have higher positions of power than others. As an example a short passage from the story will suffice, “The lottery was conducted – as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program – by Mr. Summers, who had the time and energy to devote to civic activities” (Jackson). This passage from the short story shows how Mr. Summers devotes himself to these activities that others don’t have the time to do. He does them which puts him at a higher level than everyone else in the town making him somewhat more important than the rest. Another example shall suffice from the short story. “The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him carrying a three-legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it” (Jackson). This passage from the story elaborates on just how important Mr. Summers is; he is so important to the town that he has Mr. Graves following him around, assisting him, hoping the power of Mr. Summers will rub off on him.
Similarly, positions of power also show how these positions of power have consequences for others. An example of the positions of power showing positions of power consequences would be a passage from the short story, “There was the proper swearing in of Mr. Summers by the postmaster, as the official of the lottery…”(Jackson). This passage from the short story explains that Mr. Summers is excused from the lottery, which basically means he won’t get stoned to death. Another example from the short story would be the part where Mrs. Hutchinson won the lottery. “’It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,’ Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her” (Jackson). This passage from the story explains how ruthless the people of the town are and how careless they can be.
In conclusion, in the short story The Lottery, Jackson shows how positions of power are important to the characters that possess them and have consequences for other characters. The story describes the preparation for the lottery, the importance of powerful people with her powerful characters, and the brutal ending. The story is all about the town preparing for the lottery and everyone’s nervous about it, the children have gathered up pebbles and rocks; in the end of the story the pebbles and rocks are used to stone a person.





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