The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
A lottery is a game in which people are drawn or spit out numbers to win prizes, often money. It has been a common form of gambling since ancient times and was used by the Israelites, Romans, and European colonists to give away land and slaves. Currently, it is a popular form of fundraising for schools, hospitals, and public works projects. It is also used to award subsidized housing units or kindergarten placements. There are many ways to play the lottery, and the rules for each state vary. Some states prohibit playing the lottery, while others endorse it and regulate its operation. There are several types of lottery games, including the financial lottery, which gives players the chance to win cash or merchandise by matching numbers on their ticket with those on the winning numbers sheet.
In the story The Lottery, Shirley Jackson criticizes the blind following of tradition and ritual. She argues that it is important for society to be able to question the status quo and stand up against those who are wrong. In addition, she points out that it is dangerous to rely on democracy, as people are often fooled into thinking the majority is always right.
The villagers in the story are portrayed as weak and easily manipulated. They believe that they are only doing what has been done for generations, and that those who deviate from the tradition are crazy or unwavering. In addition, they are blind to the fact that their tradition is not actually helping them. The story also shows that changing a small aspect of a ritual can have large consequences. For example, when Mr. Summers switched from wooden chips to slips of paper, the villagers did not think about the deeper meaning behind this change. In this way, Jackson reveals that one small change can have a much bigger impact than is initially obvious.
Another theme of the story is that the villagers are not willing to take risks. They are afraid of being ridiculed if they do not play the lottery. The villagers also do not want to risk the chance of losing their winnings. This reflects the fear of many Americans of having to pay taxes if they win a large amount of money.
Although the lottery was first introduced in America by British colonists, it is not very popular among American Protestants, who have traditionally viewed gambling as sinful. However, the emergence of the modern state lottery began with New Hampshire in 1964, and many states now use it to raise revenue.
Cohen writes that the genesis of state-sponsored lotteries is a classic case of public policy decisions being made piecemeal and incrementally, with little overall oversight. Once a lottery is established, it becomes an integral part of the state’s economy and has broad support from the general public as well as specific constituencies such as convenience store operators (who are regular vendors for lotteries) and lottery suppliers (heavy contributions to state political campaigns are regularly reported). The lottery industry is highly centralized and dependent on state revenues.