Discuss Jackson's "The Lottery" as a horror story.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What is described in Jackson's story is fairly horrific.  If one goes with the standard depiction of the genre, Jackson's story might not apply.  Yet, upon further examination, there can be much within the story that might apply to the horror conventions of the Gothic genre.  The need to "provoke a response" that is rooted in fear is evient in the story.  The terror of the community is an undeniable experience that arises from the story.  One of the reactions that most readers have to Jackson's story is a fear of the community and a terror of what the community has the capacity to do.  The root of this fear resides in the fact that the reader is able to relate to this experience and what is happening within it.  Certainly, Tessie brings out this element of being "relatable."  Tessie is "every person."  She is no different than anyone else and the randomness with which she is picked helps to bring this out.  It is based on the laws of probability, which means that anyone could really be targeted.  There is nothing specific in Tessie's disposition that makes her different from anyone else in the village or even the reader and it is here where some level of identity can be forged.  The terror that lies at the base of the horror genre is the "fear of the unknown."  This can be seen in the reader's experience in understanding that the faith in the community can be misplaced for at any time, the community can turn on its own, expunging anyone and everyone it sees unfit and this terror, or fear of what this might happen, is where an element of horror might be seen in the Jackson short story.


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