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  Brad's Teacher Writing: In-Class Essay

March 15, 2006

The following essay was written in class by Brad Hyde while his students wrote on their chosen essay topics.


“The Lottery” is written in the objective point of view.

Choose three different characters from the story and give examples of how each one might tell the story from a limited omniscient point of view. Refer directly to specific events to make your points and to explain how the story would change if told this way. *The plot will stay exactly the same!


Imagining “The Lottery” in the Minds of Other Characters

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is written in the objective point of view. But, what if Jackson had chosen to tell the story in a limited omniscient point of view? Imagine the story told by Old Man Warner, Bill Summers or Tessie Hutchinson.

Old Man Warner would likely tell the story with great relish. In Jackson’s story he enjoys the lottery and suggests that only a “Pack of young fools” would abolish the tradition. Warner’s thinking would be dismissive, especially towards any suggestion of change. When Mr. Adams points out that “in the north village they’re talking of giving up the lottery,” Warner’s reaction likens the idea to “living in caves.” He would suggest in his thinking that lotteries are civilizing events, that they show a good and reasonable social organization. Besides, he’s been in the lottery seventy seven times—why stop now?

Having Bill Summers narrate the story would present a stable picture. He is the most prominent businessman with “time and energy to devote to civic activities.” His view of the proceedings would likely be businesslike. He says, after Tessie draws the fatal paper, “Let’s finish quickly.” In his thinking, we would likely be presented with thoughts of the lottery’s fair organization, and he may well be critical of any suggestions of change. What he thinks might be the same as what Old Man Warner says out loud and thus would make the lottery sound reasonable and rational.

But Tessie Hutchinson, the latecomer, what would she be thinking? As readers, we would miss some of the beginning. Would she really have “Clean forgot what day it was”? Her behaviour seems to show some kind of reluctance to participate. Tessie would likely be critical, even before she draws the fatal paper. She would have thoughts of the social organization, especially when she suggests her grown children ought to be included in the final draw. And clearly, at the end, her terror would be even more dramatic if we had access to her thoughts.

Imagining Old Man Warner, Bill Summers or Tessie Hutchinson giving their thoughts in the story would each cause profound changes to “The Lottery.” Jackson’s choice of the objective point of view removes the chance for other interpretations and leaves us, terrified, with only our selves to make sense of our profoundly irrational nature.

—395 words; first draft writing on Friday, March 10, 2006



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