What is the setting of the story "The Lottery"?

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The setting of Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery " takes place in a small, nondescript town located in rural America on the morning of June 27th. Jackson describes the weather on the day of the lottery as being pleasant, clear, and warm, which gives the reader a...

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The setting of Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" takes place in a small, nondescript town located in rural America on the morning of June 27th. Jackson describes the weather on the day of the lottery as being pleasant, clear, and warm, which gives the reader a sense of tranquility and optimism. At approximately ten o'clock, the townspeople begin to gather in the village square and prepare to participate in the annual lottery. Jackson does not specifically give the name or location of the town, which contributes to the story's appeal and underscores the fact that violent, traditional rituals can happen anywhere.

At various moments in the story, Jackson suggests that the town is a farming community by alluding to the harvest and crop yield. The pleasant, nondescript setting is juxtaposed with the shocking, brutal ritual which alarms the unsuspecting audience. Jackson also refrains from giving names of the surrounding towns, which contributes to her critique of American society as a whole.

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The setting of "The Lottery" is, according to Shirley Jackson, her village of Bennington, Vermont: 

“I suppose I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” 
[http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-lottery-letters]

Oddly enough, some of the readers of The New Yorker, in which "The Lottery" was first published, also wanted to know where such lotteries were held so they could visit this area and watch. This fact seems to underscore Jackson's theme of the human propensity for violence as a trait in some people, a trait exemplified by Mrs. Delacroix, who has been friendly with Tessie Hutchinson, but when Tessie draws her lot as the village scapegoat, she eagerly lifts the heaviest rock she can carry.

In her story, Jackson's village is a rural area, surrounded by other such villages with people who have lived narrow lives and, perhaps as a result of such lives, appear to have narrow minds, as well. Thus, Jackson's parable also points to a phrase used by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "the opium of custom." For, the villagers, especially Old Man Warner, continue the lottery simply because they have always had one.

 

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"The Lottery" is set in a small farming village, somewhere reasonably isolated from other villages. The people living there focus on their yearly harvest to see them through the winter, and ever since the village was founded take part in a ritualistic Lottery that picks one person to be sacrificed in honor of the harvest.

The village is not greatly described, except in brief snippets; it seems to be a typical rural farming village, with communal activities and every person directly associated in some way with village events.

...the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock...
(Jackson, "The Lottery," classicshorts.com)

This innocuous place is like many other villages around it. The anonymity of the village adds to its menace, as it could be any place in the country, even right next door to the reader's hometown. By using a sort of "Everyplace USA" setting, the author demonstrates that innocent exteriors can sometimes hide terrible secrets.

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The setting is obviously in the American Midwest. The time is about the time the story was published in the New Yorker in 1948. The old saying quoted by Old Man Warner tells a lot about the location as well as about the purpose and tradition of the lottery. He says, "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon." So this is undoubtedly one of the many small farming towns in the Corn Belt, which runs from eastern Nebraska through Iowa and into southern Illinois. The people in that region who read the story or heard about it knew that they were being ridiculed and insulted by a sophisticated Eastern liberal magazine which--at that time--bragged that the world ended west of the Hudson River. Shirley Jackson was not a New Yorker, but she was born in notoriously liberal San Francisco and spent her life in that vicinity. The people in her story are still practicing human sacrifice in order to insure crop fertility. This is an obvious exaggeration. It is in the mode of Jonathan Swift's well-known "A Modest Proposal" in which he suggests that Irish infants should be exported to England to be roasted and eaten. The New Yorker was still largely a humor magazine in 1948 under editor Harold Ross. It was full of cartoons and often printed humor pieces by Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, S. J. Perelman, E. B. White, and James Thurber. "The Lottery" might be considered black humor.

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Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" was first published in 1948, and it is generally considered a "modern day parable," though the events could be set a century or more before. It takes place on a summer morning on June 27th in a small village somewhere in the United States. The mood begins on a happy note, but the ensuing events turn much more ominous. It is the day of the town's annual lottery, and every member's name has been put into a box. The winner, and one of the main characters, turns out to be Tessie Hutchinson, though her selection turns out to be anything but lucky.

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Setting refers to time and place. The story was written in 1948, but it suggests an almost unknown era that could apply to many different times in history. The author makes this move intentionally. Readers do know that the lottery takes place in June, so we can assume late spring, early summer in terms of time.

As far as location goes, this is an unidentified location, but readers can tell it is a small enough gathering of people that everyone knows everyone else. Therefore, readers can assume it is a village, not an industrialized city.

No technology is referenced in the piece, and a stoning takes place in the end. These features can both lead readers to assume a time well before technology reigned and when human rights were not granted for all.

The purposeful omission of a stated time or place suggests that the events in "The Lottery" can occur for any society at any time. The link below provides further information regarding setting.

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