Short Story Analyzes

By: Grant Evans and Nitin Premkumar

Background Information

The Apartheid system was put in place in the beginning of the same year in South Africa. Meanwhile, across an ocean America is not so different. South Pacific refugees and blacks are treated cruelly by the majority, a common trait in Jackson's "The Lottery.'


A bright, clear, beautiful summer day leads to a murder lottery in an ordinary village sometime in the future. What does that have to do with us? Every day is a gift, but violence can turn any day into a dark, and horrible day. Violence seems okay as a group activity, but not so great for the receiver. The full force of violence is only truly felt on the receiving end. When the day begins, it's bright and sunny, but when Tessie is revealed to have the dot, “Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.” (Jackson). That day, only one suffered, and it was okay because everyone participated. Mrs. Hutchison suffered only because she was on the receiving end.


Exposition- “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 2th. but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.” (Jackson 1) This opening paragraph introduces the setting and gets the mood set up.

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Rising Action

The rising action begins when “Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool.” (Jackson). This is the first sign that this might not be all sunshine and rainbows. The ominous cloud of violence is building overhead, and the audience gets a hint that things may not be as they seem.


The audience knows something horrible is going to happen when “People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly. Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!"” (Jackson) If this was a lottery people wanted to win, then Tessie wouldn't be protesting. The audience awaits the fate of the Hutchisons.

Falling Action

Once “Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot...”, the action began to wind down. The falling action, which included the audience figuring out what would happen to Tessie, is the first outright sign of what was really going on in this story. It holds the true message of the short story, that group violence seems okay, when it only affects one or a few.
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"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”(Jackson)

The story needed within tessie being stoned to death. The end is used to shock the reader, giving the slightly mysterious mood a more twisted tone.


Tessie- At the beginning of the story Tessie is joking around, like how when she's late for the ceremony she jovially tells her husband that he “Wouldn't have [her] leave [her] dishes in the sink” as an excuse for being late. (Jackson) However as the horror of what is about to come other family is more real, she screams at Mr. Summers, telling him “It’s not fair!” (Jackson) Tessie realizes that suffering is only felt on the receiving end of violence, and less on the delivering end.


When the morning of June 27th was described as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day” the audience was set up for a happy day with someone winning the lottery on the end (Jackson). The audience was not prepared for a public stoning in the town square. It was situational irony that a nice day turned into group violence, which Jackson used to shock the reader.

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The author foreshadowed the stoning of the villager with the line “Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix-- the villagers pronounced this name "Dellacroy"--eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square.” (Jackson). Jackson used foreshadowing to make the reader slowly piece together what was happening in the story, building suspense to scare the reader.