What is a good 2-3 sentence summary of "The Lottery"?

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cldbentley's profile pic

cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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"The Lottery" is a short story written by Shirley Jackson.  The story involves a small, rural community that has chosen to follow traditions that they do not fully understand without questioning the validity of those traditions.  In an ironic ending to the story, a woman wins the lottery, despite the fact that she forgot about it until the last moment. 

An example of a short summary of "The Lottery" (two or three sentences) might go as follows:

On a pretty summer day, every member of a rural village attends a yearly drawing in which everyone's name is entered.  Because of its belief in an ancient superstition in which human sacrifice ensures good crops, the community stones the "winner" of the lottery, Tess Hutchinson.

litgeek2015's profile pic

litgeek2015 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

1) The title of the story "The Lottery" refers to an unquestioned ritual that takes place in a small farming town each year and requires all members of the community to draw sheets of paper to determine a "winner."

2) Unfortunately, the winner of the lottery must be stoned to death due to a misguided and ancient belief that this will help their crops to prosper, even though most members of the community don't remember that this is why they still perform the ritual.

3) The overall message of the story is that people who do not question the rituals they take part in are bound to reap the benefits or suffer the consequences without true understanding of what they are really doing, and in the case of "The Lottery," when someone does speak up, the fear of what might happen if they do not complete the ritual means that everyone participates no matter who disagrees.


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