What are two personal internal conflicts in the character Tessie?"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," Tessie is reluctant to join in the traditional drawing.  For, she arrives late making the trivial excuse that she did not want to leave the dishes in the sink.  That she is reluctant to come to this drawing is apparent.  Probably, she would be in favor of quitting the lottery as Mrs. Adams mentions that some places have done so.

When Bill Htchinson draws a paper, he stares at it: 

Suddenly Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers, 'You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted.  I saw you.  It wasn't fair!'

Even her husband tells her to "Shut up," indicating that Tessie has been struggling with the concept of the lottery.  Yet, she also is thinking only of herself as she demands that her daughter and son-in-law draw also, although her request is denied. Again, she demands that the drawing be redone, claiming it was not "fair." She does not want to be the scapegoat, the victim.

Tessie's two conflicts are that she does not want to participate in the drawing because she fears the consequences and she does not think it is fair when she becomes the victim.  She questions the need for her involvement in tradition as well as the cruelty to her with unconcern for even her family.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would think that Tessie is almost riddled with conflicts, as the stones' markings would riddle her body.  One present conflict is the fact that she is stoned by the villagers at the end of the work.  This conflict pits her against society, as she is the target of all of the village.   Another conflict present is the idea that she is in some level of conflict with herself.  She arrives late at the event, noting that she forgot, and is the constant voice of questioning about the presence of the ritual.  She seems to be the voice of dissent, confirmed with her words at the end.  Yet, her oppositional state is not merely present when she pulls the piece of paper, but rather is persistent.  She seems to be fighting with the social order about the ritual, but is also fighting herself with her compliance.  She wants to break out of this harsh circle, but cannot bring herself to do so.  Part of this might be because she's a woman, and her status might not hold as much sway.  Another reason might be due to the protection of her family.  She seems to be torn with this event, and her closing words might be the ultimate judgment that her own psyche renders about it.

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The Lottery

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