Who is the scapegoat in the story “The Lottery”?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A scapegoat is a word that comes from the Bible. In order to symbolically get rid of the sins of the Israelites, a goat was selected and all of the sins of the community were transferred to that goat, who was left to wander in the wilderness, so that the Israelites could remain pure and unblemished, enabling them to stand before God as holy and sinless.

In this chilling short story, the reader comes to understand by the end of the tale that this community every year uses the lottery to select a scapegoat from amongst them as a kind of blood sacrifice to ensure that they will have a good harvest. Note what Old Man Warner says about the traditions associated with the lottery:

Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.'

The saying of Old Man Warner clearly links the human sacrifice of one of the villagers with a blood offering meant to appease the gods to ensure a good harvest. In this story, therefore, the scapegoat is the woman who is selected to die: Tess Hutchinson.


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