Since "The Lottery" was published in 1948, are there any cultural or historical events that Jackson might be commenting on here?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Written in the wake of World War II, Jackson's "The Lottery" reflects the concept of the Juden as a scapegoat for economic problems in pre-war Germany. Of course, the many acts against humanity that were committed with a populace that turned a blind-eye to them or was afraid to dissent is also an underlying concept behind the narrative. In "The Lottery," for example, when the villagers obediently take their turns drawing the slips of paper,

They grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously.

Certainly, Jackson makes an interrogation of humanitarism as the people only worry about themselves and not the person who will soon become the scapegoat. When Tessie objects that the lottery is not "fair," she is told to be quiet by even her husband. And, when she repeats "I tell you it wasn't fair," and she asks others to listen, Mr. Summers merely continues with his agenda, "Ready, Bill?" and Mr. Hutchinson, her husband, nods with compliance and only a quick glance at his wife.

After World War II, the Cold War and the House Un-American Activities Committee witch-hunts began and citizens became willing to persecute those whose ideologies were considered counter-democratic. There was a move toward sadistic punishment of anyone whose ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of post-war U.S. through the black-balling of Hollywood writers and actors and the destruction of people's business reputations.

This ready condemnation of others either as scapegoats or as threats to tranquility is not dissimilar to that of the villagers in "The Lottery" who readily accept the rules of the traditional lottery:

"Be a good sport, Tessie," Mrs. Delacroix called. "All of us took the same chance." 

And, when Tessie Hutchinson has the mark of the victim on her piece of paper, Mr. Summers dispassionately calls out, "All right, folks,....Let's finish quickly!"