Can the lottery be seen as a collective act of murder?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If the question is asking about the possibility of viewing the lottery system from Jackson's short story as collective murder, then I say the answer is yes.  I think the societal stoning to death of Tessie could be viewed as murder.  The town collectively works together and intentionally kills someone.  That sounds like murder to me.  

I suppose that a claim could be made that the lottery is not murder though.  Everybody in the town voluntarily participates in the archaic tradition.  Tessie knows that she has a chance of dying before the drawing even starts.  I suppose the claim could be made that it's not murder because, in a way, Tessie volunteered to die.  

I don't believe euthanasia is a possibility.  That's a "mercy killing."  Tessie is not suffering from anything; therefore, killing her doesn't relieve her of any pain.  I don't believe the lottery is suicide either.  Tessie might be participating in the lottery, but she most certainly does not want her life to end. 

"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

I also don't believe the lottery system represents a justifiable form of capital punishment.  Capital punishment is the legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime.  The lottery system from the story is definitely the legal authorization of killing someone; however, Tessie didn't commit any crimes.  If she didn't commit a crime, then capital punishment doesn't apply.  

Considering the above options of exactly what Tessie's death should be called, I believe that murder is the best choice of the group. It's even premeditated.  People show up to the lottery with rocks and stones picked out. They all know that if their name is not picked, they get to throw stones at a person until that person is dead.  Their actions are not accidental.  It's not manslaughter or even negligence. It's murder.