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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (SHORT STORY REVIEW) 3/5

This is the short story that has been influential in the plots of so many that came after it. “The Lottery” is a common plot concept that has been done over and over again, and one that I have always loved. Whether it’s a lottery of who survives, or a lottery of who dies, it always has a unique impact on the story being told. I never fail to find this plotline interesting, but seeing Shirley Jackson’s take on it is truly interesting. Maybe it is only the reiteration I’ve seen time and time again that made me less impressed by Ms. Jackson’s. Regardless, I enjoyed the read for what it was. As an English major, it was a great exercise in recognizing the themes and symbolism used here. I enjoyed the little details of religious metaphors, and of Tessie Hutchinson’s reactions to the lottery. It was interesting to see her panic, not for her family, but for herself, and the fact that even the youngest of her children was given the very stones that would kill her. The hopes for a good harvest, and the joy of this heinous act, was shown very clearly despite Ms. Jackson’s simplistic way of writing the scene. Moreso, I enjoyed the little character bits, such as Old Man Warner having been through so many lotteries, or the children being scared for Tessie’s daughter, because they were her friend.

It’s a truly interesting short story, and I highly recommend giving it a read. For me, the effect was average- but when you really start to think of the insinuations behind the idea of a sacrificial lottery, it grows on you. This is the kind of story that sticks in your head, and gives life to new ideas. For anyone interested in symbolism and deconstructing literature, I think this is a must-read.

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