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11 September 2019
Literary Analysis of Shirley Jackson
People will often go to great lengths in order to prove that their opinions are right. After years and years of the same practice, it is very challenging to admit to oneself that the practice is flawed. A perfect case of this is Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery". In an undisclosed town, citizens practice a tradition where every year a random person would be chosen from a box of paper name-slips and would be stoned to death. Similar to the popular film The Hunger Games , Shirley Jackson displays just how evil mankind can become when living in a close-minded environment through the style of her writing and the devices that she uses in "The Lottery".
A major example of someone not willing to have their mind changed is Old Man Warner. He is the oldest man in the entire community and he has sat ecourangly watching the lottery go on for many years. Due to this, he has very strong beliefs that the lottery is essential to the town's operation moving forward. As soon as talk of other towns parting from the tradition, Old Man Warner says, "Pack of Crazy fools" (Jackson 104). "Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them" (Jackson 104). "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in the caves" (Jackson 104). The longer an individual continues to act in an evil manner, the easier is for them to accept it as normal behavior.
Any outsider looking in on the extreme case in "The Lottery" can see that what is taking place is extremely wrong and sinful; however, every year a name is picked like clockwork. In the ceremony that the story illustrates, the person chosen from the names in the box is Mrs. Hutchinson (Jackson 107). She is a wife and a mother of multiple children. Even with these circumstances, the townspeople are more than happy to run to grab rocks for the ceremony (Jackson 105-107). No one verbally objects because to them, this holiday is no different than that of thanksgiving to the reader. People in this town would rather continue stone a well known neighbor then change their ways.
This story shares many traits with the movie The Hunger Games . In the movie, a civilization is forced to send twenty-four children to fight in a last man standing style battle every year. Similar to the text from Shirley Jackson, the members of the society are forced to sit by and watch as people they love die horrifically. In both of these situations, the evil practices have been going on for many years, with multiple generations of families living through the years of the tradition. This is further evidence of the evil that humans or willing to commit in order to prove themselves right. However, there are some differences between "The Lottery" and The Hunger Games . In "The Lottery,'' only one person is chosen, and that individuals name is picked randomly out of an ancient box. In The Hunger Games , many more are picked per ceremony and all of civilization must tune in to watch the gory battle.
Throughout Shirley Jackson's writing, there is also exemplification of open-mindedness. While plans for the current lottery are being discussed, Mr. Adams, a town member, proclaims, "They do say," (104). "That over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery" (104). Being open-minded does not always come easy. Often, it takes a very long amount of time before one will realize their mistake. However once they learn from the mistake, it is very rare that they are going to make it again. An example of this is later in the text when Mr. Adams continues on to say, "Some places have already quit lotteries" (Jackson 104). In these other towns, citizens have finally had enough of killing fellow civilians. This change should be obvious from an unbiased point of view as the towns are more than likely unaffected by the decrease in one life to the total population every year. In a place where people are open-minded, one can really