Saturday, April 8, 2017

the last book I ever read (Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, excerpt eight)

from Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin:

Tessie Hutchinson, the lottery’s victim, in many ways resembles Jackson: her distraction, her self-consciousness about her housekeeping, her disheveled appearance. (Just as Tessie insists on finishing her dishes before she arrives at the lottery, Jackson carefully notes that she put away her groceries before sitting down to write the story.) Female sacrifice is a motif in “The Renegade” as well: the dog is named Lady, and the story ends with Mrs. Walpole metaphorically switching places with her, imagining the sharp points of the collar closing in on her own throat. If “The Lottery” can be read as a general comment on man’s inhumanity to man, on another level it works as a parable of the ways in which women are forced to sacrifice themselves: if not their lives, then their energy and their ambitions. The story is at once generic and utterly personal.

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