Author Shirley Jackson does not include the year in which "The Lottery" takes place, or the name of the village. Why are these details omitted?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shirley Jackson leaves out the name of the town and the year "The Lottery" took place for a couple of reasons. First, the town could be any town, and the year could be any year. The act of leaving out the name and year gives the reader the idea that the events of "The Lottery" could happen anywhere. The narrator is very detached from the story, telling it as though what is happening is completely normal, and in the beginning readers are led to believe everything is completely normal. It's as if a town picnic is about to begin--a time for visiting neighbors and having some fun. It makes it seem realistic. As a matter of fact, I remember reading somewhere that when this story was first published in the newspaper, the newspaper received many inquiries about where this town was and who was getting away with stoning people!

Jackson is also commenting on society and its "traditions," and the fact that many towns, states, and countries have traditions that may have lost their meaning. The idea that people do something because they've always done it and not because it serves any real meaningful purpose anymore is highlighted. "The Lottery" occurs during mid-summer, and historically, the time surrounding the summer solstice was often when ritual sacrifice was performed to assure good crops in the coming year. This town has continued this sacrifice even though other towns are starting to give it up. The townspeople accept it as a necessary--and even perhaps-- a good part of their lives.