Most people can remember reading one or two jarring short stories in school, and Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is usually among them. Paramount has announced that it will adapt the story as a feature film. Jake Wade Wall is writing the screenplay, and Jackson’s son will be an executive producer.
Image Via eNotes
The Lottery, first published in 1948, is set in a small town as they prepare for and carry out a very old tradition: the Lottery. We watch as schoolboys collect stones and townsfolk gather in the square. The nature of the Lottery is not explained to the reader, and indeed the characters seem excited about the event. But tension slowly builds as the story progresses. The head of each family is called to draw a slip of folded paper from a box, then they are all told to look at their paper. Most are blank, but one is marked with a black dot.
The mother of that family reacts in a way that clues the reader in on the fact that something is very wrong. She began the story as casual as anyone else, even commenting that she “clean forgot what day it was”, but the moment that she sees her husband has the marked paper, she panics, accusing the administrator: “You didn’t give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair!”
Once again, slips are drawn, but now only within this small family. The youngest child has to be helped by a neighbor. When the mother is seen to have the marked slip, she begins screaming how unfair it is, but no one is listening. They are already gathering up stones – everyone, even the women who greeted her like a friend at the beginning of the story. Most jarringly, “a few pebbles” are even given to the woman’s very young son.
It is only with the last line that we fully understand: the Lottery is a process for selecting a person to die, stoned to death at the hands of their neighbors, friends, and family.
Image Via Inkredibly
The short story is gripping, but it’s still a short story. I wonder what the makers will do to turn it into a feature-length film?
Feature Image Via Hyperallergic