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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

A lottery is a method of raising money for a government or charity by selling tickets with different numbers on them. People who have the winning numbers win prizes. A lottery can also refer to a game of chance that is not based on skill, such as an auction or a raffle. The word is derived from Latin loteria, meaning “fateful chance,” but the concept of drawing names out of a hat has roots in ancient Egypt and the Old Testament.

In her short story The Lottery, Shirley Jackson presents a picture of a small-town society that is ruled by tradition. The central theme of the story illustrates the importance of understanding the role of scapegoats in human societies, and the way that societies often persecute people to mark their boundaries.

The first scene of the story takes place in a bucolic setting on an unspecified day in June. The narrator describes the gathering of villagers to conduct an annual lottery. The children and teenagers that have assembled exhibit the stereotypical normality of small-town life, warmly gossiping and discussing their work. Adult men slowly begin to gather as well, demonstrating the typical patriarchal nature of this society.

Once the adults have gathered, a man named Mr. Summers, who represents authority in the story, brings out a black box and stirs up the papers inside of it. The narrator tells the readers that this particular lottery has been going on for a long time. This information is important for understanding the significance of the lottery.

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