Characteristics of the Lottery


The lottery is a game in which numbers are drawn to win prizes. The word “lottery” also can refer to any situation in which decisions are made on the basis of luck or chance. For example, the way judges are assigned to cases is often a matter of luck or chance. The first recorded lottery was organized by Roman Emperor Augustus, who used it to distribute gifts to his guests at dinner parties. Later, the lottery became an important method for raising money for cities and towns, wars, and public works projects. Today, Americans spend billions of dollars on the lottery each year.

The setting in Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery, depicts a remote American village that is overrun by tradition and customs. It is a place where a sense of community exists, but it is also a place where people hide behind their traditions and customs to cover up their sinful nature. The story’s events are symbolic of the sinfulness of humanity.

In this essay, we will analyze the ways that Shirley Jackson uses characterization methods to reveal the characters in The Lottery. She develops the characters through their actions and their interactions with each other. For example, Mrs. Delacroix is described as a determined woman with a quick temper. Her action of picking a large stone expresses this characteristic. Moreover, she does not give in to threats from Mr. Summers, which further reveals her character.

There is an undercurrent of tension and violence in The Lottery. It is clear that some villagers are ready to kill in the name of tradition and social order. However, most of the villagers do not want to admit that killing is wrong. This is exemplified by the way that they treat Tessie Hutchinson.

During the past century, state governments have been increasingly involved in the management of lottery operations. The most common state-run lotteries raise funds for public works, schools, and social programs. Some states allow private organizations to conduct their own lotteries. Others prohibit private lotteries but encourage them to partner with state-run lotteries. The majority of lottery funds are spent on the distribution of prizes. Typically, a portion of the prize pool is deducted as costs for organizing and running the lottery. The remainder is available for the winners.

According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, about 57.4 percent of Americans play the lottery. Of this group, 13% say they play more than once a week (“frequent players”) and 22% play less than once a week («occasional players»). The most frequent players are high school educated middle-aged men from the middle of the economic spectrum. A worsening economy may be partly responsible for the drop in lottery player numbers. Some states have begun to reduce the number of prizes. Others have raised the amount of the prizes. The most common prize is a cash prize. Others offer goods such as cars or houses.