“The Lottery” by Shirly Jackson

“The Lottery” was first published in The New Yorker on June 26, 1948, two and a half years after the end of World War II. As a nation, we were very happy to return to our “normal” lives filled with comforting traditions. Yet this story will force us to ask, are traditions always a good thing?


black and white photograph of Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson

The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; 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; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th, but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took only about two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.

The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of…

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