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The Lottery

“Now, I’ll read the names—heads of families first—and then men come up and take a paper out of the box. Keep the paper folded in your hand without looking at it until everyone has had a turn. Everything clear?” Shirley Jackson was an American author in the mid-1900’s. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She is best known for the short story The Lottery which suggests a secret, sinister underside to small-town America. In 1965, Shirley Jackson died of heart failure in her sleep, at her home in North Bennington, at the age of 48. In the short story The Lottery, Jackson shows how positions of power are important to the characters that possess them and have consequences for the other characters.
“There was the proper swearing in of Mr. Summers by the postmaster history” (Jackson). This quote shows that Mr. Summers is the highest authority in the town that is why he is the one who chooses the lottery. Even though he also is in the lottery himself he is the most powerful in this town and controls almost everything that happens there.“His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother.” (Jackson). The way it says “took his place” makes it seem like everyone in the town has their own specific place that they must not obey. Everyone has a specific rank and power within the town and within their families as well.

“Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand” (Jackson). The Lottery is tradition and even though Tessie is Bill’s wife he must follow the tradition like it has a higher respect than the power of family and follow it precisely, if it is his wife being chosen or not. “Daughters draw with their husbands’ families, Tessie, you know that as well as anyone else.” (Jackson). This shows that the men are the head of the household because the women have to draw with their husbands’ family instead of their own. This tradition is taken very seriously and must be followed strictly.

There are many examples of positions of power and its importance in the short story The Lottery. Each man, women, child, etc., has his or her own place in society and they each have certain power over others or lack thereof. I believe that every society small or big has their own class rank and power between them and they can be taken very seriously. Like in this short story, Tessie’s rank in her town is what caused her to be stoned to death.





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