The Lottery

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Shirley Jackson [RL 8 IL 7-12] This ironic tale shows the tragic results of following tradition. Themes: superstitions. 30 pages. Tale Blazers.

The people of a village perform their annual lottery, with startling consequences for the recipient of the one paper with the black spot.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Amanda MacGregor
Short stories are made even more accessible in this Creative Short Stories series. Shirley Jackson's classic The Lottery portrays a small town that gathers to hold its yearly lottery, a barbaric game of chance. Each head of household draws a slip, and the family with the marked slip will lose a member to stoning by the townsfolk. The shocking story forces readers to grapple with issues of ritual and violence. In Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado, the main character, Monstresor, vows revenge on Fortunato, a former friend. Monstresor leads Fortunato into a wine cellar tucked away deep in the catacombs. Here Monstresor chains and walls up his victim, leaving him to die. The horrific crime and claustrophobic surroundings are unsettling, but Monstresor feels no remorse for his act. Each book has a section after the tale examining the background of the story's publication, providing initial reactions, and exploring themes and motivations. An author profile is also appended. These additions will help readers more thoroughly understand the story, its context, and the author. The main section of each book, the short story itself, is less than twenty pages long. The print is large, and mysteriously some text is printed in different colors. These two stand-alone volumes may appeal to readers who would find a large collection of short stories unappealing. Stories by Oscar Wilde, O. Henry, Jack London, Mark Twain, Frank Stockton, and James Thurber complete this eight-volume collection. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
First published in The New Yorker in 1948, Jackson's story has been the subject of controversy for over sixty years. The opening scene depicts what appears to be a common ritual. School children gather rocks, stacking them into mounds, as the villagers gather in the town square for the annual lottery. Everyone is present and accounted for before the drawing begins. The heads of families draw first. One man pulls out a piece of paper with a black dot in the center. The papers are replaced in the worn black box before each member of the selected family reaches in. The person holding the slip with the black dot becomes the sacrificial subject for the community, succumbing to the stones thrown by her neighbors and family. The cover of the book hints at the outcome showing rocks in flight with one blood-stained stone in the right corner. This reprint of the story has some lines printed in colors: blue, green, yellow, and red. It appears that the colored printing is in reference to the four-page commentary that follows the story, although the symbolism of the colors is not noted in the text. A picture of Shirley Jackson and a five- page biography, including a color photograph of Bennington College and a black- and- white picture from a witch trail, follow the commentary. This story is readily available in print, in audio readings, and in video formats. Analyses of possible meanings and of literary elements can be found easily in a variety of sources. The format of this book is not very attractive and the book itself does not add anything of substance to the large body of information available about the story. "Creative Short Stories" series. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563127878
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning Corporation
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Pages: 30
  • Sales rank: 278,377
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.02 (w) x 7.55 (h) x 0.08 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Great idea

    I think every student should read this book. It's a small book, a quick read, and a great story.

    What happens in a small town that has grown addicted to tradition? It's not until the very end you find why this is so important to these town folks and what happens every year. It's a great conversation starter, and for students analyzing other books, plays, movies, it's a great story for comparison.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2003


    cool. creepy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2003


    A truly creepy and interesting short story. Starts off with a nice, sunny day, in the end... well, read it yourself. Teaches you a life lesson... small pieces of paper with black dots on it are bad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2000

    It's Crazy!

    I really enjoyed this story. It shows how people do certain traditions and rituals, but don't know why they're doing it and what they're doing it for. Read this story!! You'll be freaked out!! Be thankful that you don't have a piece of paper with a black dot on it!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2000

    Shirley Jackson is amazing!

    'The Lottery' was excellent reading. In fact I am performing it for my prose selection for forensics this year. This story really makes you think about how people perform rituals and just go thtough all the motions without really thinking about what they are doing. I highly reccomend reading it!*****

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