Was the lottery fair in "The Lottery" short story? Why did everyone have to take part in the final step of the lottery? Why did Tessie want to include Tom and Eva in the final drawing?  

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Certainly, in terms of its randomness, the procedure of the lottery is about as fair as it gets. No one family or individual is favored over another; any single individual is as likely as any other to draw from the ancient black box the fateful piece of paper with the black mark on it. So, in that respect, the drawing is fair.

But what of the more overreaching fairness? On a certain day, once a year, the whole town shows up and one of them gets chosen to be stoned to death by all the others. Does that sound fair to you? I suppose, if it's a time-honored tradition in the town and everyone agrees to take part in it, well, in that sense too, it's fair. I suppose.

Now, this is when it gets interesting.... suppose we take away the black box and the lottery and the special day, and we're just left with a group of people. One day, one of those people, for no sensible reason gets sick with some awful disease. The person has lived a normal, happy life for, let's say thirty-five years and out of nowhere gets a fatal disease, some terminal illness. He or she suffers dreadfully for a few months or years, and then, to the dismay and anguish of family and friends, the person dies.

Is that fair? Well, is it?

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The term "fairness" is an interesting one. At one end of the spectrum, it was fair in that no one family had a particular stronger or weaker chance of being drawn.  From an experimental probability point of view, there was a sense of fairness in that all parties had an equal chance of being drawn.  In terms of actuality, I think that a case can be made that the entire process was actually quite unfair.  The entire ritual itself which called for one person's name to be drawn and pelted with stones might exceed the standard definition of "fairness."  Tessie continually points to this notion.  While simultaneously being fair and unfair, perhaps this becomes the ultimate moment where one is left to assess whether there is a difference between a sense of procedures being fair and/ or a sense of institutional frameworks having to be reconcieved in terms of fairness.

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In the Shirley Jackson short story, "The Lottery," the drawing was designed to be as fair as possible. The name of each family member in the town was included, and every able-bodied citizen was required to be present. The box of names was protected and a committee was designated to administer the proceedings. The lottery itself was quite fair; the reasons for holding the drawing and its intentions might not seem so.

Only the family chosen in the intial drawing was included in the final pick. When Tessie realized that she was one of the "finalists" of a drawing that no one wanted to win, she panicked. In a selfish act of desperation, she pleaded that her other relatives be included in the final drawing, thus giving her a longer shot of winning.

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