In a lottery, people buy tickets and hope to win a prize, which could range from a small sum of money to millions of dollars. It is one of the world’s most common forms of gambling and is often regulated by states. The word lottery is also used to describe situations where something important or fateful happens by chance, such as the stock market or a sports game.
People like to gamble, and there is an inextricable human impulse to play the lottery. There is, however, a more sinister element to the lottery that shouldn’t be ignored: state lotteries are selling false hope. They are promoting an image that winning the lottery is something you do because it’s your civic duty, that you’re helping save children or some other worthy cause. That is a very dangerous message to be spreading, especially in an age of increasing income inequality and limited social mobility.
Americans spend about $80 billion on lotteries each year – more than $600 per household. That’s a lot of money that could be better spent on an emergency fund or paying off credit card debt. But in the rare chance that you win, there are huge tax implications – you’ll likely end up losing more than half of your winnings in taxes alone. And if you’re not careful, you could get into a terrible financial situation and ruin your life for years to come.
In the story The Lottery, Shirley Jackson explores the theme of oppressive norms and the way they deem certain evils as harmless. She demonstrates how people can condone cruelty to others because of the fear of losing their own privileges. The short story also explores the power of tradition and how it can blind us to the evil in our society.
How Shirley Jackson Builds Suspense in the Story
The first thing you notice when reading The Lottery is the order of assembly. The children are the first to assemble, and it is implied that this is their usual order of arrival. The children are seen as innocent, and they are eager to partake in this event.
As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the lottery is not a fun and exciting activity. The children’s behavior and the events that follow suggest that the lottery is a horrific and deadly affair.
How Shirley Jackson Explores Gender Roles in the Story
The central theme in the short story The Lottery is the dangers of traditions and the ways they can affect our lives. Shirley Jackson uses this theme to develop the story and create suspense. The story also raises questions about the role of women in a patriarchal society.
The word lottery derives from the Dutch noun lot, which means fate or luck. The practice of using lots to determine important or fateful events dates back a long way. The Bible, for example, instructs Moses to distribute land among the people of Israel by lot, and Roman emperors used lotteries to give away slaves and property during Saturnalia.