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The Square and the Crowd: Public Assimilation in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

Jingmin Wang

Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai 201620, China.

*Corresponding author: Jingmin Wang

Published: 31 October 2022 How to cite this paper


Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story “The Lottery” relies heavily upon its setting of the village square. This essay focuses on the function of the square as a representation of public space in the story. By triggering out the image of the Athenian agora and the Roman forum, the square as a center of public life in the village functions as a political enclosure in which the villagers’ psychological unity and imaginative rationalization of public order are strengthened. Such a space, though it seems to allow for the manifestation of diverse discourses, gradually silences dissents by involving the participants in a process of psychological assimilation, which leads to a loss of subjectivity among individuals. In its transformation of the villagers from the individual beings to members of the collective, the square reveals its duplicity—its perceived openness belies its function as a political enclosure in which the complete process of public assimilation can be achieved.

KEYWORDS: Shirley Jackson, The Lottery, square, public space, the crowd


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How to cite this paper

Jingmin Wang. The Square and the Crowd: Public Assimilation in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. OAJRC Social Science, 2022, 3(3), 250-253.

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