A lot of people play the lottery, and the US government estimates that they spend upwards of $100 billion annually. But what a lot of those players don’t realize is that they’re actually paying an implicit state tax with their tickets.
States promote their lottery games by telling consumers that a portion of the proceeds goes to state coffers, which then use the money for education and other social welfare programs. But the reality is that a significant percentage of the money raised by the lottery goes to prizes for players, and the amount that’s left over after expenses — such as profits for the promoter and prize payments — are deducted is small relative to overall state revenue.
Historically, lottery was used as a painless way to raise funds for a wide range of state purposes. For instance, the founding fathers of Boston and Virginia used lotteries to fund the construction of Faneuil Hall and a road over a mountain pass respectively. In fact, the term “lottery” itself is derived from a Dutch word that means fate, and there are rumors that John Hancock ran a lottery to determine who would build Boston’s famous town hall.
Shirley Jackson’s short story, ‘The Lottery,’ first published in 1948, features a small-town community holding its annual lottery. The residents gather around as they draw their slips. There is banter, with some arguing that other towns have stopped holding their lotteries. One old man quotes an old traditional rhyme: “Lottery in June/Corn be heavy soon.”
Tess is the narrator of the story, and her role is to witness how her life will change if she wins the lottery. The story is not meant to be a morality tale, but rather a depiction of life as it changes for some while for others it remains the same.
The story is told in such a way as to build suspense and generate tension between the characters. There are many hints that something bad will happen, and when Tess realizes the results of her ticket drawing are not what she expected, her reaction is almost comical. Tess’s reluctance to share her disappointment is an important part of the story and gives the reader insight into how she feels about the event.
A key theme in the story is that life is a game of chance, and the outcome of any given turn of events depends on a series of uncontrollable variables. The lottery is a classic example of this, and the fact that the odds of winning are so incredibly low creates an element of tragedy that is often overlooked. The narrator of the story and her family are also affected by the lottery, and it is interesting to see how they handle their losses. The lottery is not necessarily evil, but the way in which it is promoted in some states certainly warrants a closer look. The question of whether it is worth the cost to taxpayers is an important one that should be debated.