The Lottery” (1948) by Shirley Jackson

After reading The Lottery, written in 1948 by Shirley Jackson, answer the following questions:
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Discussion Questions:

  1. Were you surprised by the ending of the story? If not, at what point did you know what was going to happen? How does
    Jackson start to foreshadow the ending in paragraphs 2 and 3? Conversely, how does Jackson lull us into thinking that this is
    just an ordinary story with an ordinary town?
  2. Where does the story take place? In what way does the setting affect the story? Does it make you more or less likely to
    anticipate the ending?
  3. In what ways are the characters differentiated from one another? Looking back at the story, can you see why Tessie
    Hutchinson is singled out as the “winner”?
  4. What are some examples of irony in this story? For example, why might the title, “The Lottery,” or the opening description
    in paragraph one, be considered ironic?
  5. Jackson gives interesting names to a number of her characters. Explain the possible allusions, irony or symbolism of some
    of these:
    ● Delacroix
    ● Graves
    ● Summers
    ● Bentham
    ● Hutchinson
    file:///Users/carolynsigler/Desktop/lotry.html (7 of 8)1/23/2005 7:58:04 AM
    The Lottery–Shirley Jackson
    ● Warner
    ● Martin
  6. Take a close look at Jackson’s description of the black wooden box (paragraph 5) and of the black spot on the fatal slip of
    paper (paragraph 72). What do these objects suggest to you? Why is the black box described as “battered”? Are there any other
    symbols in the story?
  7. What do you understand to be the writer’s own attitude toward the lottery and the stoning? Exactly what in the story makes
    her attitude clear to us?
  8. This story satirizes a number of social issues, including the reluctance of people to reject outdated traditions, ideas, rules,
    laws, and practices. What kinds of traditions, practices, laws, etc. might “The Lottery” represent?
  9. This story was published in 1948, just after World War II. What other cultural or historical events, attitudes, institutions, or
    rituals might Jackson be satirizing in this story?

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