The Lottery Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery book cover
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Why does the author fail to reveal why the lottery was necessary or what it accomplished?

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prof19010 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The author of The Lottery gives veiled hints of the reason behind the yearly lottery, but doesn't flat out tell the reader why, possibly because she wants people to try to figure it out for themselves.

A few hints or suggestions pop up throughout the story. Old Man Warner gets angry when someone mentions that some towns have stopped the lottery. He calls them names and then says "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon" (Jackson). In this subtle but important statement, he suggests that at some point the people of this area believed the human sacrifice takes place to ensure a good harvest of the crops. This is also suggested since the date is June 27th, a time when the crops are starting to grow and harvest is coming soon. This town seems to have (at one time) been a farm town, as suggested by the mention of tractors.

Was it necessary? At some point these people believed in the lottery, and not they continue it because it's a tradition and they are afraid to change.

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ktmcgin90 | Student

By not explicitly specifying the necessity or accomplishments of The Lottery, Shirley Jackson is allowing her readers to assess for themselves the significance of rote traditions. In this example, Jackson implies that an unchallenged belief system yields harmful societal consequences.