A lottery is a form of gambling in which numbers are drawn to determine the winner or winners of an event, such as a prize or money. Lotteries are often used to raise funds for public works, such as roads, schools, colleges and hospitals, as well as charitable causes. Lotteries have been around for centuries, and are one of the most popular forms of gambling. The word “lottery” is derived from the Dutch word meaning fate or fortune.

A basic element of a lottery is a mechanism for collecting and pooling all the stakes placed as bets on the number(s) selected by each bettor. This is normally done by a hierarchy of sales agents who pass the money paid for tickets up through the organization until it can be banked, at which point it becomes part of the lottery’s total fund, from which all prizes and profits will be paid out.

Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story “The Lottery” takes place in a small village, and depicts the blind following of tradition that is sometimes dangerous and even violent. This theme is highlighted by the use of a plethora of symbols throughout the story, which demonstrate the need for people to belong.

Several important undertones are presented in this story, including the importance of standing up to authority when it is wrong, and a critique of democracy. Mrs. Hutchinson’s act of rebellion against the lottery seems to be a futile attempt at changing a system that is not working. However, when she is a victim of the lottery, she retracts her acts of rebellion and allows herself to be dragged away to her fate.

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