Jackson received hundreds of letters from people "who wanted to know where the lottery was held." Examine what these responses reveal about human nature based on "The Lottery."

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a rather disturbing fact. The way that so many readers found the story so believable, or presumably thought it was based on real life indicates the extent to which the rather Gothic and sinister presentation of humanity was accepted by Jackson's readers. The story's impact is based on the sudden reversal of the reader's expectations in the last few paragraphs, when they suddenly realise the true significance of what the lottery means and what this reveals about human nature. One of the most chilling parts of the ending of this story is the casual reference that is made of the stones and the participation of the children, and even Tessie's own son, in her slaughter:

The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson few pebbles.

The last few words, "...and they were upon her", almost describes the villagers as a rabid pack of dogs or animals circling and then finally jumping on their prey that they ruthlessly slaughter. The responses that Jackson received from readers therefore indicate the extent to which this latent savagery and violence is accepted or unquestioned by so many humans, and the way that this savagery is powerful enough to break through bonds such as familial love and friendship. It is rather a sad testament to the way that human nature is regarded. In spite of the massive advances that humans have made, such responses point towards the fact that we have changed little in essence and remain the same bloodthirsty, savage creatures as our Neanderthal ancestors were so many years ago.

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The Lottery

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