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A Typical American Woman.
Throughout history, American women of all ages and classes struggled to
gain rights and improve their status in a patriarchal society. Year after year went
by as American women achieved political, social and economic equality.
However, although this change did eventually take place in the typical American
society, it was a gradual process. In the short story, "The Lottery, " by Shirley
Jackson, the society depicted is clearly patriarchal. Furthermore, "The Lottery, "
which was the practiced ritual by this society, helps show male dominance, the
opposition to women, as well as the inferiority of the ideal of the American
The lottery which takes place on the 27th of June, is considered to be one
of the most important rituals practiced by this small American town. "The lottery
was conducted - as were square dances, the teen-age clubs, the Halloween
program." (p.292). Every person in the village is expected to take part in it. It is
such an important even that all other activities were postponed the day it took
place. This ritual deviates from the typical democratic system where the
members of the village do not have the opportunity to choose, but are chosen.
In addition, the ritual is always, no matter what, is conducted by men. In the
story, both Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves are responsible for conducting this
event. The fact that women were not allowed to possess such responsibilities
under any circumstances depicts the inferior status of women in that typical
Men are always represented as most dominant figure in the nuclear
family. Because of their dominant role in society, men get to select first ballot for
their entire family in the lottery. Thus, the fate of the family lies in the hands of
the head of the head of the household, which would be the male figure. Women,
on the other hand, do not have this power. They are not allowed to choose for
their family. However, if for any reason the man is unable to choose, the
responsibility is handed down to the eldest son in the family. These lines depict
this concept :
"Wife draws for her husband, " Mr. Summers said. "Don't you
have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?" ... "Horace's not but
sixteen yet, " Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. "Guess I gotta fill in for
the old man this year." (p.295) .
It clearly shows that men are far more superior in this small town. "Men have a
choice; women choose only when they are already at risk in the lottery pattern."
(Whittier, p.354). The family's luck depends first of all on the fathers in "The
Lottery." A woman's chance of survival is highest when she has many children,
especially sons who will not marry out of the family and increase her risk. A
woman may be safe by childbearing. When it comes to marriage, the daughter
"moves from man (father) to man (husband)." (Whittier, p.354). The daughter
draws her own ballot with the husband.
Women in the story are characterized as thought they are commentators
rather than full participants. Mrs. Delacroix and Mrs. Graves make small-talk at
the time of the roll call. Old Man Warner resembles a woman who "comments
more than he participates; presumably, although he is still a male, his age has
feminized, i.e. weakened, him. " (Whittier, p.355).
The roll-call continues over the women's voices. Ironically the roll-call
starts with the name "Adams." "Adam", means "man" in Hebrew, is the first to be
called. The contemporary Eve in this story is Tessie Hutchinson, who is used as
a scapegoat and is sacrificed.
As it is shown, some names in "The Lottery, " have great significance.
The main characters name, Hutchinson, "magnifies the allegorical force of this
story." (Yarmove, p.243). Anne Hutchinson was exiled from the Massachusetts
Bay Colony in 1638 because of her religious beliefs. Rhode Island was where
she established her church. Eventually, she died in an Indian Massacre. "Some
might call such a woman a martyr, who was exiled and died for her beliefs. "
(Yarmove, p.243). Tessie Hutchinson, however has no strong beliefs, except
her belief in self survival.
In the beginning, Tessie Hutchinson is described as an ideal woman. A
good mother and
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Fiction, Literature, Short stories, Dystopian literature, Films, Human sacrifice, The Lottery, Gender studies, Gender, Anne Hutchinson, Lottery, Womens rights
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