What is a Lottery?

Lottery is a form of gambling in which numbers are drawn at random to determine the winners. Prizes are normally cash or goods. Ticket sales are used for public or private purposes, such as building roads and bridges, or for funding schools and colleges. A percentage of the total prize pool goes as costs and profits for lottery organizers and sponsors, while the remainder is distributed to the winners. The draw is usually held once or twice a week. In the United States, state-run lotteries are legal in all but three states (Connecticut, Georgia, and Michigan). In the late 1970s, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wyoming also introduced lotteries.

Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery, is set in a small town where tradition and family are very important. She reveals that people can be cruel to one another for the sake of tradition, and it is up to individuals to stand up for what they believe in.

The lottery in the story is a way to determine ownership of property, as well as other rights and obligations. It starts when Mr. Summers, a man who represents authority, brings out a black box. He then stirs up the papers inside it, and everyone draws a number. Eventually, Tessie Hutchinson’s number is drawn and she is stoned to death. This is an example of the cruelty that can occur in a small, peaceful looking village.