Helen Keller said, “Being Blind is bad, but having eyes and not seeing is worse.”
I recently read “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, which is probably one of the most situational ironic stories I have ever read. As I was reading the story and began to analyze the overall hypocrisy and theme attached, I realized how quickly we as people are to grasp an idea or concept and accept it to no end and without consequence.
Man. vs. Society conflict is present in everyday living; Jackson outlines the sneaky or subliminal ideas that our government, media, and social leaders program our brains to receive with zero questions.
In the short story, Jackson titles “The Lottery,” to create an idea in the readers mind that someone will gain or win something valuable; therefore, as the reader reads on, Jackson carefully, but knowingly adds symbolic references to death and bad luck as presented by the following: black spot and box, three legged stool, perfect setting, and she even plays with the characters names, such as, Mr. Graves, and Mrs. Hutchinson.
I thought of Helen Keller’s quote after reading the story and began to realize her overall theme or message to the world. Because the story has no original setting or set location, the story is referencing society as a whole and the various ideas we as citizens adopt without challenge or cause.
I thought of a few beliefs that are pressed upon us that could very well serve as an example of thinking we are winning, but actually winning to lose:
Student Loans are required for any student who has not received a scholarship or award based off their educational achievements in high school; therefore, majority of minority students rank in the latter. We are segregated by bias test, of course, the obvious race segregation has been banned, yet most parents of minority students push the college and higher educational spoon into our mouths not knowing that the acceptance into the college also means higher debt for that child. But most minority students and graduates enjoy boasting about their educational achievements. Yet, fail to mention the debt accumulated from trying to win a “lottery ticket.” Winning but losing.
The belief that success is measured by the amount of money, the size of your home, bank account, credit score, social life, personal life, family, and overall our socioeconomic status is false. Yet, those of us who purchase those homes purchase them not from need, but for image. Those of us who purchase the cars we know others want to see, don’t purchase it for us, we purchase it for them. While, success is not measured externally, our society, especially the media, does exactly what Jackson and Keller display throughout their writings as believing we are winning when the win is actually a lose!
Although, at the end of Jackson’s short story, Mrs. Hutchinson’s family received the black dot and therefore, won the Lottery for that year. I can’t help but notice the allusion created by having the husbands draw the ticket as representing the curses and cycles created by families that become difficult for other family members to break out of or even notice for that matter; if the husbands win the first round, he will then have to subject his family to another risk. I see this as Nathaniel Hawthorne represented Hester Prynne in the Scarlet Letter; it becomes a scar of shame.
Winning the Lottery, in Jackson’s story delivers the message that a family would be scarred for life. Winning meant never being the same again. Even though, society has created multiple ideas and beliefs from religion to education that set us up for the black spot, we are unable to recognize them because challenging a tradition or belief is seen as radical and most of us would rather conform than fight regardless of the ridiculous nature for which the ideas present.
And in order to not be a spoiler, I will not proceed with the ending, but I do recommend it for a good read.