Marxist Criticism for Shirley Jacksons, The Lottery

Everyone’s luck runs out, prepared or not, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Shirley Jackson born on December 14th 1916 in San Francisco had started writing short stories and poems in the beginning of her teenage years. The Lottery, written in 1948 suggests a secret, sinister underside to small town America, Jackson was one of the most influential writers in the early twentieth century. In the short story The Lottery, Jackson shows how social classes, or the lack thereof, have an effect on the characters and the events within the town. Social classes within a society affect all characters within it and the story.

Mr. Summers the wealthy man of the society is the highest there is. The story stated, “Mr. Summers was very good at all this; in his clean white shirt and blue jeans, with one hand resting carelessly on the black box, he seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins” (Jackson). This shows that Mr.

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Summers is very highly respected and the highest man in this society. Another example of social classes affecting characters is when the story states, “The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk” (Jackson). With this simple sentence it shows that in the hierarchy women remain under the men, who seem to rule the household and everything everyone does. By this sentence it shows that the way people dress reflects off their social classes. Also proving that the women were thought of as naive and always came after the men, even though many people in the society were equal women were still less.

Equally important is how the social classes are affected by the story and the events going on in the town. In this town there is a lack of social classes, and having the lottery makes up for the structural imbalance. Mr. Summers the only person with a social class leads everyone into doing things they do not want to do, because there is not a social class to be above him. Ergo, he is the head of the town. When you “win” the lottery your social standard is even lowered.

This example is well portrayed when the story states that Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her, then Old Man Warner said “Come on, Come on, everyone”, and all the villagers threw stones at her. Another example would be when Mr. Adams says “They do say, that over in the north village they’re talking about giving up the lottery” (Jackson). This shows a significant meaning. With this statement it sounds like they are trying to imply why exactly they are giving up the lottery, because it’s not fair and it’s not right to end someone’s life by chance. The lottery is a dangerous thing even though it is tradition to each town.

Conclusively, the short story The Lottery, Jackson shows how social classes, or the lack thereof, have an effect on the characters and the events within the town. Each event and character is significant to the story and has a mysterious background. The significance of this story shows how social classes are important and the chance of luck. The reader can learn how to critique Marxist papers, and find the significance behind characters and events within the story. Works Cited 2009.

(n.d.). Retrieved 11 2011, 17, from Jackson, S.

(1948). The lottery.