The Lottery and Other Stories


4. What are some examples of irony in this story? For example, why might the title, "The Lottery," or the opening description in paragraph one, be considered ironic?

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Even the title of the short story is a classic example of irony. Modern readers in particular would ordinarily associate a lottery with a winner who gains a positive experience or a reward. In this case, however, Jackson's lottery results not in a winner but in a definite loser who is stoned to death by the village. Perhaps this extremely subversive irony was a factor that led to many readers' outrage over the story when it was first published. Duped by the nature of the title, readers perhaps expected a story about a winner, but were shocked by Jackson's portrayal of inhumanity and violence. The character of Tess Hutchinson is also of significance. She displays hypocrisy and human weakness. Though she puts up a brave front and pretends to be unconcerned with the lottery (arriving late, forgetting the date), Mrs. Hutchinson is the first to protest the lottery when her family is endangered. She complains, ironically, "It wasn't fair!" (216). Up until this point, however, Tess has been complicit in allowing the lottery to proceed, though she knows of the gruesome outcome.