Summary Response on “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson


The lottery is a literary work and a short story written in 1945 and first appeared in the New Yorker during the year. In this story, there happens to be an annual lottery for small towns in the morning of June every year. The town residents would then stone to death the person who won the lottery. Considering the story of her life and the cues given in this story the lottery can be concluded to be more of a satire than a horror. The author has been able to satirize some aspects of reality by use of methods such as symbolism. The paper aims to provide a summary of “The Lottery”, while assessing how the author utilized satire in her narration. The author has been able to successfully use satire to criticize uncivilized customs, confined within the traditions of the society described in “The Lottery”.

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The main characters include Tessie Hutchinson who was the unlucky winner of the lottery. Old man Warner was the eldest in the village and had participated in 77 lotteries. There was also Mr. Summers who conducted the lottery and Bill Hutchinson who was Tessie’s husband. Tessie ‘Hutchison, despite arriving late for the lottery became the lottery winner. Instead of enjoying her good luck, she yells at the people and tells them it wasn’t a fair game. The villagers however ignore her cry and stone her to death. This twist gives the readers terrifying and shocking feelings as the concept of lottery is based on positive outcomes such as millions of money.

First, Shirley Jackson satirizes group violence with illogical justifications, and cultural customs that continued to violate rights of the society members. The act of stoning a person to death is a form of group violence and a sign of a disorderly society. The villagers described in this story stoned Tessie to death without even a sense of guilt. A person who wins a lottery should be celebrated but instead, this society opts to punish them. Group violence and mob mentality is shown by Davy Hutchinson who brings pebbles to stone Tessie. Her reason to satirize group violence and inhuman acts may be inferred from situation that the story was written. It was written and published in 1948, only 3 years after the end of the Second World War. In this story, people decide to use mob mentality to guide their behaviors instead of them being rational. By facing such violence committed by the mob therefore, might have agonized about this evil therefore deciding to remind people about its brutality.

This satire not only targets the group violence, but also an old fashion of living for the society and its people. In this story, lottery is a tradition that has lasted for a long time, and has brought abundance and wealth to the residents. Even though it brings a lot of money to the residents, people only participate in it because is a tradition, not because they enjoy the event. From a rational point however, this tradition is inhuman and barbaric. In spite of the modern background processed by the society, it is ironic that the villagers have been stuck in inappropriate and old fashioned customs and hence the author’s objective to satirize it. Considering the life of the author, the reader can well understand the author’s reasons for satire. After her marriage, she moved to a small scaled rural area in North Bennington, Velmont. As a professional writer and highly educated woman, she could not mix with the society members because of the outdated and old fashioned traditions that they practiced. Rather, she might have felt aversion from this small society which led to her criticized their way of living.

The author also uses satire to show how a society can turn to be a threat to one’s life rather than being protective and supportive. Upon arriving at the lottery event, he villagers are all calm and which makes it look like any other day. The lottery is one of the society’s norm based on the idea that any person who wins the lottery must be brutally killed. It also symbolizes that death can come at any time in one’s life. It is ironic that a society that should aim to protecting adding quality to lives of its members cannot do so, and instead carries on with such inappropriate traditions. It is also ironic to find out that Tessie’s best friend was even one of the people who opted for the largest bolder to stone her.


As evidenced, the author has articulately used satire to criticize traditional customs found in The Lottery. The first satire is on group violence, where the author aims to criticize acts of mob violence on a person who only wins lottery. It is ironical that a person who should enjoy fruits of winning is stoned to death by the same organizers of the lottery. Secondly, the author uses satire to criticize a society with a modern background and that has refused to modernize despite the amount of money t receives during lottery. The author finally criticizes the situation that a society that should protect an individual turns to be the biggest threat of a person’s life. The audience has therefore been able to understand the shortcomings of group thinking and being rational in their judgments.