We Are All Stoners

In high school English class, we read a short story called The Lottery written by Shirley Jackson. It was first published in The New Yorker in 1948 and is still considered one of the most provoking short stories in American literature. Much of its metaphor was lost on my 1970’s youth but I do remember a sense of foreboding and helplessness when our teacher added a viewing of one of its many film adaptations to our class time.

Its major theme is scapegoating – the action of mob psychology and how people will abandon reason and embrace cruelty if they are a part of a larger group behaving in the same manner. According to Wikipedia, “The story describes a fictional small town in contemporary America which observes an annual ritual known as "the lottery". The purpose of the lottery is to choose a human sacrificial victim to be stoned to death to ensure the community's continued well-being.” In the story, towns people draw slips of paper from a box once a year and...

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