Top 8 Quotes from Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery (written in North Bennington)!
It’s that time of year again. Most of the leaves have fallen and the chilly wind
brushes them across our quaint, little streets. There is a cool, crispness to the air.
The days grow darker as we get closer to Daylight Saving Time and sales of candy
spike in our local stores.
Bennington is an iconic Halloween town (think E.T., think
Nightmare on Elm Street, too freaky? Think Ernest Scared Stupid then) with
historical landmarks that scream for ghost and goblin visitations (Southern Vermont
College, The Catamount Tavern, The Old First Church graveyard).
Perhaps surprising to many, Shirley Jackson wrote her dark, renowned short story
”The Lottery” while living on Prospect Street in North Bennington, Vermont. If you
remember from your English class days, the story describes a fictional small town,
which observes an annual ritual known as “the lottery.” It has been described as one
of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature.
Let’s give you a quick Sparknote overview: In a small village of about 300
residents, the locals are in an excited yet nervous mood. Children gather stones as
the adult townsfolk assemble for their annual event, which in the local tradition is
practiced to ensure a good harvest.
What starts out as a well-assuming tradition to the reader, quickly becomes a rather
sick and twisted tradition. In keeping with tradition, after the lottery is selected and
one lone person is the “winner,” each villager obtains a stone and eventually puts
Bill’s wife, Tessie, to death. It’s a story with overtones of how far as a society we will
go with our traditions and how as a naive audience we are easily swept into blindly
accepting this ritual as the story slowly drips in the carnage.
Here are our top 8 freaky quotes from “The Lottery.” Trick or Treat!
“The lottery was conducted – as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program – by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities.”
“The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock.”
Well, now.” Mr. Summers said soberly, “guess we better get started, get this over with, so we can go back to work.”
“The crowd was quiet. A girl whispered, “I hope it’s not Nancy,” and the sound of the whisper reached the edges of the crowd. “It’s not the way it used to be,” Old Man Warner said clearly. “People ain’t the way they used to be.”
It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”
The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.”
Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.”
And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.”
From all of us at the Chamber, we hope you had some fun with this piece. We wish
you a fun, safe and enjoyable Halloween. No stones though please!