What is the significance of Tessie's final scream, "It isn't fair, it isn't fair, it isn't right" in "The Lottery"?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Tessie's final scream in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is actually rather ironic. The lottery in this untitled town has taken place for years and years. According to the rules of the society, the lottery takes place under extremely fair conditions. One person will be stoned every year. The method by which the person is chosen is entirely random and by chance. For Tessie, her scream should be closer to a cry for the ethical treatment of humans. The last part of her statement, "it isn't right" can be taken as that moral and ethical jab that should be occuring. Readers tend to empathize with Tessie because they come from humane societies that would not do something just for a tradition's sake.

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William Delaney | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

She sees that the whole ritual isn't fair or just, but only sees its true character when it is happening to her. No doubt she has participated in the lottery many times over the years but has never questioned its necessity or its fairness before. The others who are stoning her probably pay no attention to her screams, since they have heard the same protests at every such event in the past.

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