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

In "The Lottery," the residents of a rural town gather to participate in a tradition called the lottery, and some residents discuss the relevance of the lottery, revealing that some other towns have eliminated the tradition. Ultimately, a Mr. Hutchinson draws the marked lottery slip, and so his family members must each draw. After Tessie, his wife, draws the marked slip, she is stoned to death.

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A good summary of any literary work will enable someone who has not read the story to get the gist of what happens just by reading your summary. A summary of "The Lottery" would need to include what the lottery is, how it works, how Bill Hutchinson chooses...

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A good summary of any literary work will enable someone who has not read the story to get the gist of what happens just by reading your summary. A summary of "The Lottery" would need to include what the lottery is, how it works, how Bill Hutchinson chooses the initial "winning" slip of paper, and how it is his wife, Tessie, who ultimately loses her life that day.

I would dedicate one sentence to an explanation of what this particular lottery is. It would need to explain that the lottery happens once a year and that the "winning" family is not lucky but extremely unlucky. This sentence will need to explain that one member of the "winning" family is to be stoned to death. Your sentence should also include some information on how the lottery "winner" is chosen. This first sentence will set the scene and allow the reader to make sense of what comes next.

A second sentence would be dedicated to the fact that it is a member of the Hutchinson family who will pay the ultimate price that year and that this member is subsequently determined to be Tessie.

The final sentence would deal with the conclusion of the story, which is the villagers advancing on Tessie. This sentence should also mention the unfairness that Tessie feels in being selected, given that she insists Bill was not given enough time to choose the slip of paper that he wanted in the initial "lottery."

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A summary of a work of fiction will usually focus on distilling the major events into a much shorter narrative, without losing any of the major plot points. Particularly in a story such as "The Lottery," which is told in a neutral tone by a third-person narrator, it will not discuss the themes of the text and the ideas behind it. A three-sentence summary of "The Lottery," therefore, might be as follows.

1. On a bright summer day in a village somewhere in rural America, the inhabitants gather for a long-standing ritual, which is not initially described or explained but which involves a lottery, in which every family and individual participates.

2. Although some of the villagers are more enthusiastic than others, they all seem to agree that this lottery is an important tradition, including Tessie Hutchinson, who is a little late but joins in the proceedings when she arrives.

3. As the lottery progresses and it becomes clear that Mrs. Hutchinson has won, she becomes more and more distraught, complaining that the procedure has not been fairly conducted, until it becomes clear what her prize is to be, as the other villagers pick up stones and begin to stone her to death as a sacrificial victim.

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When we summarize a text, we are usually seeking to reduce a great number of words to just a few, comparatively speaking. If one were to summarize Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" in just two or three sentences, one could say the following:

The residents of a small, rural town slowly gather in the town square to participate in a long-standing tradition called the lottery; residents of the town discuss the relevance and importance of the lottery, and it is revealed that some other towns have done away with the tradition which used to be thought to have something to do with the success of the harvest. Ultimately, a town resident called Mr. Hutchinson draws the marked lottery slip, and so each of his family members must draw a slip; when Tessie Hutchinson, his wife and the mother of his children, draws the marked slip, she is stoned to death by the town and her own family.

Summaries can be difficult to produce since we have to leave out so much information in order to be truly concise. Therefore, we really have to consider and make decisions about what the most important events of the story are so that we can focus on only those.

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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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"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.

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