45 pages 1 hour read

Shirley Jackson

The Lottery

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1948

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“The Lottery”

  • Genre: Fiction; short story
  • Originally published: 1948
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/Adult
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: After Tessie Richardson’s husband selects the “winning” slip of paper during their town’s annual lottery tradition, Tessie’s family must participate in the final section of the lottery, in which the “winner” is stoned to death.
  • Potential sensitivity issues: Murder; violence

Shirley Jackson, Author

  • Bio: 1916-1965; born in San Francisco, CA; graduated from Syracuse University
  • Other works: The Haunting of Hill House (1959); We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962); “The Possibility of Evil” (1965)
  • Awards: Edgar Allan Poe Award (1966) for “The Possibility of Evil”

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit: 

  • Small Towns and Small Minds
  • The Scapegoat
  • The Cruelty of Friends and Family

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will:

  • Develop an understanding of the elements of the horror genre and identify these elements in Shirley Jackson’s short story. 
  • Gain an understanding of the elements of the horror genre to compose a two-sentence horror story. 
  • Read/study short paired texts and other resources to make connections on themes of Small Towns and Small Minds, The Scapegoat, and The Cruelty of Friends and Family. 
  • Analyze and evaluate plot, character actions, and symbolism to draw conclusions in structured essay responses regarding Small Towns and Small Minds, The Scapegoat, and other topics.