Assess the effectiveness of the use of violence in the story.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jackson's use of violence is subtle and this what makes it so effective in the story.  There is not much in way of demonstrative violence, but there is much in way of social cruelty.  For Jackson's story, the real horrifying element is not the violence.  Rather, it is the social cruelty that is a part of the lottery selection.  This is more horrific than the violence.  The violence is an extension of this.  When Tessie gets hit with the first rock, the terror has already been articulated.  The effects of this is worse than any violence.  For Jackson, the ability to bring out social cruelty in the most brutal form is something that the practice of the lottery represents.  Her employment of violence is almost a secondary issue because we, as the reader, are so horrified with what is happening in the village as well as the fact that no one speaks out against it.  The violence is minimal because there is already an established horror present.  If Jackson were to use more violence it would be almost sensationalist, getting in the way of the themes and ideas that Jackson wishes to pursue and develop.  In this light, there is a great use of violence in its most minimal of forms.


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