How the Lottery Affects People


Lottery is a game of chance wherein numbers are drawn at random to determine the winner. It is a popular activity that is widely practiced in various countries across the world and has generated substantial revenue for governments in many different countries. However, there are some concerns about the game and how it can affect people. It may cause people to become addicted to gambling, become obsessed with particular ‘lucky’ numbers and even get into debt just to buy the ticket. Also, winning the lottery does not guarantee happiness, as many former winners have complained that they lost their friends and ended up bored because they no longer had any work to do.

Lotteries have a long history, dating back to ancient times. They were used to distribute property in the Roman Empire, with Nero being a big fan of them, and are attested to in the Bible as well, where lots are used to give away slaves and other items during Saturnalia feasts or for divining God’s will. In modern times, state governments have legalized them to raise money for specific public goods, such as education. However, these revenues have not been correlated with the overall fiscal condition of the states.

Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story, The Lottery, explores some important aspects of human nature. The story tells about a small village that holds an annual lottery. The prize is a good harvest that year. The villagers seem friendly and kind to each other until the moment they find out who has won the lottery. Then, they turn against the “winner,” who is stoned to death by her neighbors. The name of the victim, Tessie Hutchinson, is a clear allusion to Anne Hutchinson, the American religious dissenter whose Antinomian beliefs led to her excommunication from the Puritan Massachusetts colony in 1638.

The story is a very effective illustration of hypocrisy and the cruel behavior of some humans, who are only too willing to use the power they have to hurt others. While the villagers may claim that they hold the lottery as an old custom, it is obvious that they have little regard for its negative impact on human welfare.

The main point of the short story is that a person’s actions are determined by her genetic and environmental characteristics, as well as the social environment in which she lives. The result is that while some individuals have more “luck” than others, there is no guarantee that a particular individual will be successful at any given endeavor or achieve any type of success, including winning the lottery. People need to focus more on their actions, less on the luck that may or may not be involved. This is a lesson that we can all learn from the story.

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