Is there any significance in "...the second letter. Beth" in the story "The Lottery in Babylon"? 

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The words "Beth," "Aleph," and "Gimel" refer to letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In Hebrew, the beth, or beit, looks like this:


Each man is branded with a different letter. Those with a Beth, like the narrator, are higher in status than those with a Gimel; but they are lower in status than those with the Aleph.

For many years the people of Israel were held as slaves in ancient Babylon, but even though he is branded with a letter from the Jewish alphabet, the narrator does not seem to be Jewish himself. He says that he has "slit the throats of sacred bulls," which would have been a forbidden practice among the Jews. However, keep in mind that this story is a fantasy. The author is taking liberties with the time and the place.

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The Lottery in Babylon

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