If you’ve never read The Lottery, go and google it, there are a tonne of places to read it online and it will take you no time at all to read through it.
The Lottery is named after a ceremomy that takes place every year in a small, rural village in America in order to keep the crops growing well. The tradition is generations old, and although some of the village members believe it to be a bit old hat, and other villages have even ceased taking part at all, this village keep the tradition going, because tradition is tradition, right? even if it’s pointless. It’s a really clever little story, and horrifying because these things happen all the time, numerous atrocities are carried out in the name of tradition, everyday. Good people stand by and let them happen because there is often no power to be seen in a single voice, or because they don’t wish to cast the light of controversy onto themselves, or maybe they are just too blinkered to see the bad in what they do until they fall victim of it personally.
Once again, the horror of the auctioneer comes about from no one individual’s willingness to stand out from their peers. But unlike Jackson’s story wherein people are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions, Samson’s characters know that they are being taken advantage of, but are too gullible to do anything about it until it’s too late because they don’t want to be spoken badly of to or by their neighbours. Even if the cost of doin so means to lose everything.
Shirley Jackson really knows how to make a hero of an outcast, and that’s why I love her so much. While I’m sure we’d all like to think of ourselves as brave enough to side with the misunderstood family portrayed in this, or at least to let them live their lives in peace, I’m not sure that it’s as easy as that in reality. People are quick to judge and slow to understand, and like the torch wielding villagers of this novel, once you’ve made a villain of a person it’s difficult to see them in any other light. But I do love that these people come to feel remorse at the end of the book, and even try to make amends in their own small way.