Sheet: "The Lottery" Discussion Guide
Directions: Use this discussion guide to facilitate thoughtful
responses to the story "The Lottery." Before students read the
story, utilize the "accessing the story" questions to assist
students with recalling their prior knowledge. Invite multiple
interpretations throughout all discussions, giving the students
opportunities to explore a variety of perspectives and pose
an array of questions.
Accessing the Story
This story by Shirley Jackson takes place in a small rural village.
The people are gathered for the drawing of a lottery. Consider
what you know about small towns. What are some characteristics
of a small town or community? Have you ever been to a small
town? What was it like? When you think of a lottery, what do
you expect to take place? How would you define a lottery? Have
you or do you know someone who has participated in a lottery?
What was the outcome?
Use the following questions to guide students through a post-reading
literature discussion. Focus on inviting all students to participate,
inviting a variety of interpretations and perspectives. Utilize
student comments to probe at the meaning of the story and to
move the conversation along. Encourage students' questions and
celebrate them. Use students' questions to lead to others, helping
students to develop their own unique visions of the text.
1. Why do you think so much time is spent describing the black
2. What do you think the purpose of the lottery is in the village?
Why do you think people continue to participate in it?
3. Why do you think the lottery is such a long-standing tradition
in the village?
4. Does this compare to anything you know in real life? Explain.
5. How do you think the village people feel about the lottery?
6. What would you have done in Tessie Hutchinson's situation?
7. How did you feel about the lottery at the end of the story?
What was your reaction?
8. Do you think this sort of lottery could take place in your
own community? Why or why not? Are there any events that have
occurred in your community that remind you of the events in
9. How did your initial understanding of the term "lottery"
compare to the lottery in the story? How did your initial understandings
help or confuse your interpretation of the story?
10. Do you think this story has a message for readers? Explain
11. How have other classmates' interpretations of the story
impacted your own understanding of it?
Consider how this story would change if it was told from a different
point-of-view. How would Bill Hutchinson or Tessie Hutchinson
tell the story? What if the reader knew all of their thoughts?
Write a news story about the event of the lottery, focusing
on an interview with one of the townspeople. What would they
say about the event? An alternative to this activity is to conduct
a dramatic interview of some of the townspeople, as in a talk
Consider using other texts to inform the students' understanding
of this one. Students may point out texts on their own, or the
teacher may point out texts students have read or ones they
are going to read in the future. You might consider the following:
Novel: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Novel: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Novel: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Novel: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Novel: 1984 by George Orwell
Novel: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Short Story: "Charles" by Shirley Jackson
Short Story: "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell
Short Story: "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury
Short Story: "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Old Testament: Leviticus 16:22, ritual of purification
, and http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/rsv.browse.html,
a comprehensive listing of online biblical texts
Current events identified by students, and teacher.