In the short story, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, the author ingeniously wrote a fictional narrative with a very powerful and realistic message.

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Jackson was able to create an ordinary story plot but she inserted some symbolisms and ironies that exhibited her compelling depiction of the wickedness of the society. She tried to showcase that violence can take place in any setting. Also, she illustrated how people tend to go along with the flow in order to minimize the chances of being ostracized by others.

More so, she showed that people are selfish by nature. They always look after their own good even at the expense of the welfare of other people. In the story, the villagers did not contest their barbaric customs because it was simply a tradition. But once the victim would be themselves, they started to question the rationality of their practice.

This story was written in 1948, a short period after WWII. Probably Jackson was influenced by the events that transpired during this era when evil was very apparent. One possible inspiration for the story would most likely be the holocaust. This horrific incident was neglected by the society but when they were the ones experiencing it, they started to question the morality of it.

Another possible influence would be the time when Jackson’s college magazine was criticized by professors because of its honesty and aggressiveness (Reagan, 2008). Maybe she thought they were being hypocritical because they do not want to hear the truth particularly if it is negative.

In relation to the American society, the story is an eye opening account of how people can be cruel and hypocritical when dealing with others. Also, there is the reality that people choose not to change anything from the status quo even though it is not for the common good. But once an individual experience the effects of the negative impacts, he/she starts to rise up against the majority which can either lead to change or tragedy.


Reagan, B. (2008). Shirley Jackson - Life and Work. Retrieved December 9, 20008, from