Lottery Critics

Lottery is a popular pastime for many people that involves paying a small amount of money to have a chance at winning a large sum of money. It has also been used by governments for a number of purposes, including funding projects and providing social safety net services. Critics of lottery have centered on the potential for compulsive gambling and its regressive impact on lower-income groups. These concerns have often shaped public policy and the evolution of the industry.

The story begins in a bucolic, unnamed small town where the villagers gather for their annual lottery. Children on summer break are the first to assemble, followed by adult men and women who exhibit the stereotypically warm normality of small-town life while talking about work and family. Then Mr. Summers, the organizer of the lottery, enters and places a black box on a stool in the center of the room. He explains that the box contains bits and pieces of older, original lottery paraphernalia, and that the villagers respect the sense of tradition conferred by this old box because it has never been broken or lost.

Those in the square begin to select a piece of paper with a number written on it. The narrator notes that the villagers have been trained to select their numbers quickly, in order to maximize their chances of winning. He also points out that the mute Tessie has the worst odds, as she is the only person without a number on her slip.

Once everyone has selected their numbers, Mrs. Delacroix and other villagers begin to hurl stones at Tessie. She pleads with them to stop, but they continue until the mute Tessie has been pelted with enough stones to be killed. Eventually the villagers converge on her and she dies.

Jackson’s story suggests a number of important issues regarding the nature of modern societies. It shows how societies organized around a sense of common tradition will oppress those who do not fit into the mold to mark their boundaries. The titular lottery offers a microcosmic example of the dehumanizing consequences of this type of culture.

While the lottery has many advantages, critics point out that it is not a foolproof system of raising revenue for government or charity. Some states, particularly those with a strong democratic culture, are able to regulate the lottery and prevent abuses. Others have not been able to do so and have allowed the lottery to grow out of control, with resulting problems for both society and for players. Despite these criticisms, the lottery is still a popular pastime and raises billions of dollars every year. It remains a popular way for people to win big money and fulfill their fantasies of wealth and fame. Its popularity has even expanded to countries that do not normally participate in it. This has created a dilemma for states, which must balance the desire to attract participants with the need to protect their citizens’ health and welfare.