Short Story Review: “The Lottery”

A lesson on what happens when people refuse to think for themselves

Devette Lindsay
3 min readSep 8, 2023
Photo by Oliver Paaske on Unsplash

That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It

Have you ever read a short story that stayed with you long after you put it down? Since my high school days, “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson has been that story for me. Its unsettling message remains relevant: Our inclination to blindly follow tradition and give in to groupthink without questioning is simultaneously dangerous yet a deeply ingrained aspect of human nature. This readiness to conform has led to significant horrors and much suffering throughout history.

“I was just following orders” The unaccepted excuse used by Holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann, and others during The Nuremburg Trials

We Were Not Supposed to Think

The less you know about “The Lottery,” going in, the more you’ll enjoy it. In short, it is the story of a small town’s tradition — its ritualistic annual ceremony that brings the townspeople together, possibly in hopes of a successful harvest come fall.

The story's structure perfectly exemplifies how symbols, such as a worn, dirty, black box, aid in telling the real story simmering beneath the seemingly banal activity taking place in front of our…



Devette Lindsay

I'm a book reviewer and aspiring author dedicated to building a community by sharing my love for books and offering tips for new writers and creatives.