Describe the setting of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, using specific details from the story in your answer.

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The setting of this story is a village with a population of around 300 people. The population is the only information the reader is given explicitly about the setting of the story. We can learn more about the setting by drawing inferences from other information given.

We can tell that the village is in a farming area because the men speak of “planting and rain, tractors and taxes.” (p. 1) The story takes place on June 27th, and we’re told that this is when school has just ended “for the summer.” (p. 1) From this, it is obvious that the story takes place in the Northern Hemisphere, as June in the Southern Hemisphere would be winter.

The characters have names like Baxter Martin, Bill Hutchinson and Dickie Delacroix, which all imply that the story is set in North America or Western Europe. Mr Summers, who runs the lottery, is also tasked with running “square dances, the teen club, [and] the Halloween program” (p. 2) which tells us that the story is more than likely taking place in North America, specifically the USA. In addition to Halloween, there are references to “blue jeans” (p. 3) and “stewed chickweed and acorns” (p. 4) which are both phrases common in US vernacular English.

The setting of this story is left deliberately vague by the author. The reader knows that the story is taking place somewhere familiar but not specific, which adds to the shock when the outcome of the lottery is revealed. The implication is that these events could be taking place in any village in the USA.

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