Man vs. Society: “The Lottery”

While Philip K. Dick and Margaret Atwood were both prolific and successful at portraying the man vs. society conflict, Shirley Jackson managed to do it so sublimely yet remotely that the reader had to personally analyze the short story to understand the central theme. The Lottery is an example of efficient metaphorical arguments that support the idea of empowerment and uniqueness. The protagonist is an outspoken woman who does not necessarily point out the flaws of her community verbally but opposes it by being a strong female.

Despite the evident patriarchal values, Tessie Hutchinson is willing to speak out and protest against the rules of the lottery when she was chosen as the annual sacrifice (Jackson 1991). Hutchinson’s character was out of the ordinary while not revolutionary, which adds a layer of symbolic value to Jackson’s story. The author managed to create a world where an empowered woman is, by definition, opposition to the current system and traditions even without actively fighting against them.

A similar theme is suggested by Waab Al-Kateab and Edward Watts in the documentary movie For Sama. For Sama is shot from Waab Al-Kateab’s point of view, and it portrays the horrors of the Syrian war and Kateab’s efforts to contribute to a better future for her family and community (Al-Kateab & Watts, 2019). The first similarity that links For Sama and The Lottery is the fact that the protagonists are strong females. The strong characters and desire to speak up and influence their communities is a topic that is present in both examples. Another connection between the two is the subtle man vs. society theme. Just as in The Lottery, For Sama’s protagonist contributes to changes by being strong yet not using force while dealing with societal issues. Kateab’s weapon is her camera, and Hutchinson’s defense is her words.


Al-Kateab, W., & Watts, E. (2019). For Sama. PBS Frontline.

Jackson, S. (1991). The lottery and other stories. Farrar.

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