Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The politics of needs and the politics of stories in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” (1948)

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" (1948), the old black box the villagers draw lots from is a problem for Mr. Summers, who runs the yearly lottery: "Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box." Mr. Summers identifies a problem and proposes a way to solve it. This politics of needs is about rights and justice. But for the villagers, the old box cannot be replaced because it is an essential metonymy of the coherent story they tell themselves about themselves. This politics of stories is about origins and authenticity. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 22 November 2023)

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