In a small New England town, a lottery is held each June to determine which member of the community will be sacrificed to bring forth new life, in the form of a bountiful crop. Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery begins innocently enough, describing June 27th as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day”.
There is nothing normal otherwise, for this is the day one person is chosen to die in a grotesque ritual that has been part of town life for many years. This is a throwback to ancient cultures, which believed that growing crops represented a life cycle, and that a death represented continuing life. By sacrificing one person, that life cycle would continue and enrich the survivors.
An outstanding literature term paper on The Lottery will show that an otherwise “normal” town becomes the focal point, once a year, for a bizarre and deadly ritual that ends up in the death of one of their own. Here, Jackson was trying to say that society in general holds on to meaningless rituals and traditions that represent our need for survival and the need to belong