Saturday, March 19, 2016

"Winning" The Lottery - Christian Mangone

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a short story that does a superb job of keeping the reader in a state of hesitant fear, similar to H.P. Lovecraft's works. Like Lovecraft, heavy foreshadowing keeps us on the outskirts of fear and panic, along with the theme of small towns, keeping very dark secrets(I.E. Shadow Over innsmouth). Minute, yet, important details such as "Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones"(Page 1) or "their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed"(Page 1). These minor details pollute the air with an ominous sense of growing oppression like a stranglehold. The true intentions of these events is revealed once they begin "The Lottery", ironically hosted by "Mr.Graves".  If you draw a black mark, you are sentenced to death by stoning, a grizzly fate by any measurement.

This tale, as pointed out by one of my intelligent group mate, is driven by post-draft policy. The short story was written in 1949, after one the grandest war ever waged. In this conflict, the USA was forced to draft citizen into it's military in order to seized victory. Many members of the citizenry found these draft letters to be death sentences. Draft letters would be the equivalent of "winning" the lottery. The draft would continue into the Korean War and into the Vietnam War with similar opinions and stigmata.

Shirley Jackson has done a magnificent job in crafting this world and filling the air with dark omens foreshadowing the dark secret of the town. Once sprung, the tension reaches a boiling point and leaves the reading hooked. This novel shows that a society, that may seem perfect, but with one fatal flaw, it undoes all the good the society stands for.

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