No, I am not talking about the lottery where you buy a PowerBall ticket every couple of days or so. And no, I am not talking about the state lottery you might play, nor am I talking about those scratch tickets you buy at the Mini-Marts. I am talking about Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” that was published in The New Yorker magazine on June 26, 1948.
If I am not talking about lottery tickets as we know them today, then what is “The Lottery?”
The story described a fictional town where an annual lottery takes place to ensure a good harvest. HUH!
How can a lottery ensure a good harvest?
On June 27, every year, children gather stones while the townspeople gather for the event. Slips of paper are placed in a box for a drawing. One slip of paper has a black mark.
Doesn’t this remind you of The Hunger Games?
Anyway, once a family draws the slip of paper with the black mark, the members of the family must draw to see which one of them gets a slip of paper with a black mark.
Once a family member draws a slip of paper with the black mark, they become the scapegoat or the sacrificial lamb that will cleanse the town of its bad doings. The townspeople gather around the unlucky person and stone them to death.
Not quite like The Hunger Games, but similar. In The Hunger Games, teenagers are selected from a district to compete with other districts in a game of “to-the-death.”
If you travel to one of the districts from The Hunger Games, the dates on the tombstones might be close, but probably not exactly the same day.
How would you like to browse a cemetery and realize that someone died on the same day every year for many decades? What would you think about that?
Well, I don’t know about you, but that would be one lottery I would not want to participate in.
*** Note, both Shirley Jackson and The New Yorker received hate mail over this story.***
***This short story was made into a movie.***