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Lesson 1.7:The Lottery

Short Story


  • Explain how adherence to traditions can be a positive or negative thing.
  • Describe how pacing can influence tone and mood.
  • Tradition
  • Tone
  • Theme

Sometimes the lack of an identifiable tone or theme can also have a profound impact on a story. Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" exemplifies this approach.

By the end of the lesson students will...


Key Words


Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) was an influential American writer known for her contributions to the genres of horror, mystery, and psychological fiction. Shirley Jackson was born on December 14, 1916, in San Francisco, California, but spent much of her childhood in Burlingame, California. She showed an early interest in writing and attended Syracuse University, where she began her literary career by contributing to the university's literary magazine.Jackson's writing career gained momentum with the publication of her first novel, "The Road Through the Wall" (1948), followed by "Hangsaman" (1951) and "The Bird's Nest" (1954). However, she gained widespread recognition and acclaim with the publication of her short story "The Lottery" in The New Yorker in 1948. This story, which explores the dark undercurrents of a small town's tradition, became one of her most famous works and remains a classic of American literature.In addition to "The Lottery," Jackson wrote several novels and short story collections that delved into themes of domesticity, isolation, and the supernatural. Some of her notable works include "The Haunting of Hill House" (1959), often considered one of the greatest haunted house stories ever written, and "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" (1962), a chilling tale of two sisters living in isolation after a family tragedy.

Author Biography

Think About It

In a story, the main character that pushes the plot and has goals is known as the protagonist. The antagonist attempts to prevent the protagonist from accomplishing their goals. While the protagonist is typically "the good guy," they don't always need to be.
The Most Dangerous Game By Richard Connell 1924
  • Sanger Rainsford: The protagonist of the story, Rainsford is a skilled hunter who initially sees hunting as a sport devoid of empathy for the prey. He is resourceful, clever, and adapts quickly to the perilous situation he finds himself in when he becomes the hunted.
  • General Zaroff: The antagonist of the story, General Zaroff is a highly cultured and sophisticated aristocrat who has grown bored with hunting traditional game. He possesses a dark and twisted sense of morality, believing that he has the right to hunt and kill humans for sport. Zaroff is intelligent, cunning, and utterly devoid of empathy.
  • Ivan: Zaroff's mute and imposing assistant, Ivan is described as a hulking brute with immense physical strength. He serves as Zaroff's enforcer, carrying out his master's orders with ruthless efficiency.
  • Whitney: Rainsford's friend and hunting companion in the story's opening, Whitney provides a contrasting viewpoint to Rainsford's initial indifference towards the prey. He expresses concern about the hunted animals, foreshadowing the moral dilemma Rainsford will face later in the story.
  • The Sailors: Briefly mentioned in the story, the sailors of the ship on which Rainsford finds himself at the beginning of the story serve as a means of transporting Rainsford to the island where the hunt takes place.


Read the story, link to PDF in Module 1.

  1. Which types of conflict are evident in "The Most Dangerous Game?" How do you know?
  2. Do you believe that Rainsford will ever hunt again? Why or why not?


Audio Book

Read the story, link to PDF in Module 1.