Assess the story's feelings left on the reader.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the most awful part of the effect of "The Lottery" comes with the realization that nobody cares about anybody but himself or herself. This even applies to members of the same family. Each person in attendance, approximately three hundred people altogether, is hoping that somebody else will get the fatal slip.

This is supposed to be a tightly knit community. It is very small. Everybody knows every other person on a first-name basis. And yet when it comes to the lottery they all seem to care nothing about the person who draws the slip. When Bill Hutchinson draws the slip that designates his family, his wife Tessie tries to get her married daughter Eva included in the second drawing which will select the individual family member for stoning. That would increase her chances of survival from one in five to one in six. But Mr. Summers turns her down.

Then the reader is appalled to see that not only Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson must draw but also their three children, Bill, Jr., Nancy, and little Dave. Davy is so young that he doesn't understand anything about what is happening, and he has to be helped in drawing his slip out of the black box.

Davy put his hand into the box and laughed.

If he had drawn the fatal slip his own mother and father, along with his brother and sister, would evidently have participated in stoning him to death--and he would never have understood why it was happening. Tessie would have been relieved if her husband or one of her three children had drawn the death slip rather than her.

The reader experiences a strong emotional effect partly because none of the characters in the story exhibits any strong emotional effect with the exception of the victim.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the direct intent of the short story on the reader is to create a sense of fearful reflection about the capacity for evil in the world.  One of the realities of the ending is the terror of the community.  This creates a feeling in the reader that cannot be escaped or shaken off.  The reader feels terrified at the notion of the inwardly drawn community and how it can transform into a tool of oppression. The idyllic rural community that is shown at the start of the story becomes one where terror results by the end of it.  I think that this creates the feeling in the reader of natural reflection.  Where it creates a real sense of terror in the reader is in the ability to cause a sense of reflection in the reader.  The reader is left to reflect where there are situations in which the strength and terror of the community are out to challenge the individual.  The feelings this causes in the reader is to evaluate whether they serve as a Tessie, Summers, or even Old Man Warner in these particular situations.  It is this feeling of reflective terror that is one of the most powerful and lasting experiences from Jackson's short story.