Marxcist Criticism-The Lottery

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“The People of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock…but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours” (Jackson). Shirley Jackson the author of the short story The Lottery received many different opinions on her writing. While some thought the story was brilliantly written others sent her letters of protest against the violence portrayed. Shirley Jackson though took these opposing remarks and replied to the people with the simple words of “well, really it’s just a story” (Ward). In The Lottery a tradition of playing a lottery is held every year, and each year the villagers gather around to draw their share, yet only one person is the “winner” as well as the target. In The Lottery, Shirley Jackson shows how the positions of power are important to the characters that possess them and have consequences for other characters.
To Begin, The Lottery describes how superior positions are crucial to the characters that possess them. In the story the lottery game is conducted each year but only one person conducts it. For example, “The Lottery was conducted as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween Program-by Mr. Summers” (Jackson). Since Mr. Summers runs most of the programs in the village, readers can conclude possesses a superior role. In other words, Mr. Summer’s duty to the village places him in a powerful position over everyone in the village. Not only does Mr. Summer conduct most of the events in the village but he also owns a business, this also gives him a powerful role. For instance, referring to Mr. Summers the author writes “he ran the coal business” (Jackson). Readers can infer that from owning a coal business Mr. Summers is also very rich. Thus, the wealth and the power that come from his duties to the village make Mr. Summers a very powerful man. In conclusion, since Mr. Summers is in a superior position over the village readers can conclude that his powers must be an advantage to his “life”.


Second and last, in the story The Lottery the powerful positions of the superior characters have consequences on other characters. Mr. Summers is in charge of the lottery, “There was the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summers and the postmaster, as the official of the lottery (Jackson). Since Mr. Summers has the power of conducting the lottery he has the advantage of curving the outcome. In other words, Mr. Summers can easily draw the paper of his advantage and save himself from the consequences of winning the game while others without any superior roles in the village have to deal with the outcome. Another example expressing how Mr. Summers’ role affects leads to a bad outcome for others is the result of the lottery. After everyone played their role in the game the “winner” was Ms. Hutchinson. As the winner of the game she is also the target for death; “It isn’t fair. It isn’t right”, said Ms. Hutchinson (Jackson). She is right it isn’t fair when the villagers have to suffer the consequences of death simply because unlike Mr. Summers they don’t possess a powerful position. Mr. Summers as a superior drew the paper with the black dot in it, “…the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office” (Jackson). Now, since Mr. Summers has the power of knowing which piece of paper holds the black dot he is easily saved from “winning” thus leaving others to suffer the consequences of his powers.

All in all, 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 shows the significance of how having a powerful role can lead to consequences. In other words, while some may be powerful it isn’t fair for others to suffer by being the inferiors. The Lottery portrays how these superior roles in society have bad outcomes on those inferior. In conclusion, in the short story The Lottery, Jackson shows how powerful positions are important to the characters that posses them and have bad consequences for others.





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