The Role of Women In The ‘Lottery’

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You probably know what ‘The Lottery’ is if you’re into American literature. If you have absolutely no idea what’s going on, it’s ok I’ll run you through it and tell you the roles that the women who are in it play. Just so you know, the book is a short story that has Shirley Jackson as its author.

Anyway, before I go ahead and tell you all about the book, this lottery story is amazing, check it out. Now that it’s done, let’s dive into ‘The Lottery’ shall we? Get it, no, ok.

Book Overview

Published on the 26th of June,1948, ‘The Lottery’ is a classic short story that describes a fictional town that is found in America. The book is based on villagers of the town who practice an annual rite known as the ‘the lottery’ hence the name of the book.

Basically, the book revolves around this annual rite and the happenings of events that are followed after the rite that occurs for only 2 hours as opposed to other villages as the population of this particular village is 300. 

However, in this year’s lottery, things are done a bit different as the original lottery box that was used got lost and now a substitute is being used. Due to its shabby looking nature, a man known as Mr. Summers kept on suggesting they make a new box but nobody wanted to mess with tradition.

The role of women in the book

Many aspects in the world bring people together, regardless of the gender. Just like this, Shirley Jackson uses the annual rite known as the lottery, and its events to connect the people of this town.

This connection is seen as no discrimination is shown while the roles are being given, involving both boys and girls, making them equal. Another scenario is shown during the stoning, where all members of the village took part, again, regardless of the gender. This is shown in the book where the writer describes how Mrs. Delacroix takes a stone that was too heavy, forcing her to pick it up with both hands.

As much as the lottery is used as the major connector, gender discrimination is somewhat evident when it comes to other fields and responsibilities. Here’s how:

  • There’s the duty separation based on gender – This is clearly shown when only Mr.Summers and Mr.Gravers are given the responsibility of being lottery administrators. They are given this role,not for anything else but because of the fact that they’re men. This considers women as incapable of doing the same because of their gender. This act also shows that men are the only people who are capable of holding the top ranks in society as opposed to women. You also see that it is only men who do the family representation and not any women.
  • The difference in perception – The whole story considers the woman’s responsibility to bear a child as a disadvantage. This is due to the supposed aspirations of holding the top ranks such as lottery administrations, lottery leaders among other high occupations. Ooh and don’t forget that the only reason why the large families were separated from each other was because the women were the target, as they are the child bearers. As depicted in the book, the society is seen encouraging the women to have more children thus increasing their duties as housewives. This shows how women are only perceived to stay at home while men go to the field to work.
  • The men being authoritative – As observed, women stand next to their husbands with dresses and sweaters that are faded. The faded sweaters are used to show a sense of powerlessness among women. The evidence in this is shown when Bill Hutchinson shows his authoritative nature by shoving off a paper slip from his wife’s hand. Obviously, this was to show who would be going for the lottery. In this story, it is also shown how women are not supposed to complain as once a verdict is made, regardless of it involving their families, then it would be final. Another example of the authoritative nature was when Tessie questions how the victims of the lottery were chosen. This led to her being shut up by her husband.


Luckily, things don’t run as they did before and women are treated equally, despite the situation. It is good to see that the society has changed its perception towards women hence no discrimination or things like that take place.

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