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In the short story Shirley Jackson, she wants to show the banalization of violence illustrated by a macabre and at the same time banal ritual.

The story takes place in a small village, on a clear morning, June 27th, where the whole city, but not only it, chooses its members by chance, who must be sacrificed by stoning. This ritual is part of community life. As the Author says, ‘The lottery was conducted by Mr. Summers, who had the time and energy to devote himself to civic activities.’ Therefore, there is no incompatibility between a lottery and anything else that concerns community life. It was not outside. It is an inherent part of it. Hence its ‘banality.’

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The first question anyone asks is: Why? What is the purpose of this ritual? In the story, this is not present. It has already been erased from the collective memory. And it is interesting how the author constructs this forgetfulness. She tells about utensils, the box used in the draw (new, but made with the remains of the old box), where it is left when it does not occupy the center of attention, and the papers with the names of the villagers (how they replaced small pieces of wood used for the same purpose). This is how the reason for the ritual is lost. Even the ritual was also adulterated. Details of it got lost. It would perhaps be possible to access the reason for the lottery if they knew what details were abandoned. Without them, there was only one draw, a game of chance. Its organizer wants to comply with it as soon as possible ‘and still finish in time to allow the villagers to return home for lunch.’

In addition, there is a sadism introduced in the short story of Jackson. The lottery is not just a single draw. It is a process that goes through two procedures, all carried out in a public square, among the whole community. In the first stage, one chooses which family will have one of its members sacrificed. The head of the family is the one who takes the paper in the box. The one who picked up the paper marked with a black ball has to show to the whole community that he and his family were drawn. The second step is reduced to knowing who is in the family. A new draw is held, but now, restricted only to family members. The reference is, therefore, always the family and not the individual.

Jackson’s target is precisely the trivialization of violence in everyday life. And when we talk about banalization, we are talking about its gratuitousness, which is why in the short story, it is important to forget the origin of the ritual. Without a reason, it is hollow and banal. But its effects are still felt.

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