Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Lottery

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is one of my very favorite short stories for the whallop it packs at the end, when the villagers set upon poor Mrs. Hutchinson, who drew the paper with the fatal X, with stones. If kids are are going to become peace makers (in their own lives, in the community, in the world), or at least be brought to consider deeply need for peace, we must also talk about the causes of violence. I think "The Lottery" is an amazing little tale of how many times violence just simply becomes ritual or habit. It's tradition, and no one really questions why.

When we'd finished reading, I asked the students to give examples of "real life" Lotteries--ritual violence that a society seems to believe will keep it successful, healthy, fed, safe or redeemed. They mentioned the Aztecs and the Gladiators, which I thought were great examples, as well as various methods of the death penalty and gang initiation. Some kids disagreed with this one, as the DP is, at least in theory, applied to someone guilty of a crime, unlike the Villagers in story. One student even mentioned tattoes, which I would not have thought of. I am not sure I agree, and some other students disagreed as well, but there certainly is a ritual side to many tatooes.

Today, we're going to take a look at my example of a "real-life Lottery", which is the woman in Saudi Arabi who was recently sentenced (and then pardoned) to 200 lashes for having been raped!

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