So this post is just for fun. This is the essay i wrote that gives a background to “The Lottery”. Professor kirkpatrick said some of you were interested in reading it so here it is. Enjoy!
It was a hot afternoon, with little cloud cover to be found on the First of July, but the fields were green and the air was fresh. The Lottery for this year had just ended on the 27th of June, which meant that summer was in full swing for the school children. With the aforementioned unpleasantness behind everyone the general mood of the town had improved greatly. As a result some of the local boys were up to mischief and adventures the second a watchful eye was not present.
For Bobby Martin this meant getting the old gang back together for the summer and exploring the surrounding countryside. The regulars besides Bobby were Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix, though everyone in the village pronounced it “Dellacroy.” This particular afternoon Bobby had a plan to explore a cave that one of the older boys, Baxter, had told him about. Bobby arrived at the usual spot, a beat up old shed behind the hardware store that they used as a clubhouse. The fort itself was not overly impressive, it had a large crate in the middle of it that served as a table, the chair Bobby was in, tow smaller crates that were used as chairs, and a small rusty lantern hanging up next to the door. To them this shack was a home away from home, but bobby was not thinking about that at the moment. He was growing irritable, and just about to get up when he heard to sound of footsteps and arguing coming from the alley between the hardware store and the post office. It was Harry and Dickey, at it again.
“ Stop grabbing!” whined Dickey.
“Let me see then,” protested Harry.
Bobby hissed somewhat loudly, “Both of you get in here and shut up!”
They both looked up at him and quickly made their way into the shed and shut the door. As they did so Bobby took the bag that Harry had been carrying and began looking through its contents.
“That looks good Harry,” said Bobby. Then, turning to Dickey, he asked,“Are those canteens filled?”
“Yep” replied Dickey. “But It wasn’t easy. Ma almost caught me twice. She chased me outta the kitchen real fast after I was in there a third time!”
“So is that what held you lazy turds up?” Asked Bobby smirking.
“T wasn’t my fault” protested Harry. “I got my share of the stuff extra early today!”
“Ahh well it doesn’t matter much now. I got the snacks so lets pack up and get going” said Bobby in an authoritative voice.
They then took off to the outskirts of town, past the fields and and over the hill to the North of town. When they finally reached the mouth of the cave, which had a rusting fence covering the front Harry began to panic.
“Hhhey guys, maybe we should turn back. You know we aren’t supposed to be here” he said squeamishly.
Dickey teased him “turn back if you want chicken!”
“Lay off him will ya, and give me a flashlight” said Bobby. Despite the protest the boys pulled out the flashlights and pressed on into the cave.
After some twists and turns they reached a fairly large open room. The boys were at first in awe of how big the room was, then they started taking turns yelling and making their voices echo off of the walls. Dickey decided pick up a rock next to him and lunged it across the room as far as he could. Instead of making a dull thud when it hit the ground there was a loud metallic clang that reverberated off of the walls and caused the boys to cover their ears. After the ringing had stopped the boys ran over to where the rock had landed. Buried under some dirt was a hatch, which had a small lever that needed to be pried open.
“Gimme your knife,” said Bobby as he turned towards Dickey.
Dickey looked at his knife then back at Bobby and reluctantly handed it over. Bobby wasted no time moving the knife along the crevice where the lever was stuck. He hurriedly opened opened the hatch, falling flatly on his butt as he did so.
“Gimme a light!” barked Bobby.
Then Dickey asked in an uneasy tone: “We aren’t going down there are we?”
“Don’t be such a baby,” said Harry. “ Stay here if you want.”
Bobby took one of the lights and looked down into the opening. There was a ladder that led down about twenty feet into some sort of opening. Bobby wasted no time and headed down into the hole. Harry followed right after and Dickey stayed behind. When Bobby reached the bottom and looked around there was a room with what appeared to be some machinery on both sides and a pathway in the middle that led to a door of some kind. After looking around some bobby headed straight for the door and tried to open it. However, the handle seemed to be rusted in place so he left it. But still not entirely dissuaded he took his sleeve and wiped away some of the dust until he made out the words “Vault 83” on the door.
“What’s it mean?” asked Harry.
“Dunno,” replied bobby. “But we can’t get in so I guess it doesn’t matter.”
Just then they hear Dickey yelling down into the hole: “Hey guys! What’s down there?”
“Just some machine type stuff. Come look for yourself, unless your scared!” yelled Harry in reply.
Dickey then scurried down the ladder and when he reached the bottom, stood there and stared at all of the machines. As he approached one of them he found a pile of black boxes, just like the ones used for the Lottery. The only difference was that these boxes had stamped in white lettering on the side of the boxes the words “Banned Books”. There were several books in the pile but they all seemed to be falling apart. After rummaging for a few minutes the others noticed and also began looking through the pile.
After a few minutes Bobby said “C’mon we should head back soon. Just grab a few and we’ll read them at the hideout.”
Both Harry and Dickey reluctantly got up and started they long trudge back to town. By the time they arrived back. The sun was setting, so they moved their makeshift table together with some effort and placed their hard earned treasures in the hiding spot and then covered it up.
“Same time tomorrow?” Asked Dickey.
“Course, just don’t be late lazy butts. I can’t move the table by myself” Said Bobby with a smile.
The following day they all met up at the hideout and quickly began perusing over the books they had found.
Bobby happened to pick up what appeared to be a worn out pocketbook. It had a leather cover and a strap that went around it to fasten it shut. He slowly unbound it and began to read what was in it. The first page contained a note that stated that the book had once belonged to a “Mr. Phillip J Martin”. The second page is where the entries began.
March 5th 1951
We just got to the shelter today. It looks like the damn Commies plan to send the whole world to hell! Luckily I knew it would come to this, I already bought tickets for Evelyn and the kids. They say Vault 83 is on e of the better ones too, its supposed to mainly have educated folks and a real community feel. For as much as this place cost it better be good. It cost 1,200 for myself and Evelyn and 800 apiece for the kids! Damn near drained my retirement,but I guess it doesn’t matter if you are dead anyway.
“Hey Guys look at this name. Reckon this book belonged to my family?” Asked Bobby.
Harry was the first to respond. He said “Nah, it must have been some other Martin. I’m sure there are plenty of other people with that name.”
After a few minutes of thought and no response from dickey who was nose deep in something called “Self Rice” he went back to his own readings.
April 12 1951
We finally got moved into a permanent room, apparently there was a housing mix up of some sort though. Our neighbor is a Negro! I can hardly believe it, I have to be stuck here underground next to his kind. I’ll have to talk to the community director about this as soon as I can. Anyways, after attending the orientation meeting I found out that every community has a garden and a work unit. Apparently they can’t be bothered to let us pick our own jobs. Sounds like Marxist Propaganda to me! Well I guess if this is the price for survival I can live with that, for now anyway. I just wish the damn PA system would quit spewing “Tips for healthy living” throughout the work day.
Bobby began to think about what it must have been like to live down there. He had never seen a “Negro” before but he had occasionally heard the adults talk about them. While still pondering Harry abruptly interrupted all of them by yelling about something he had apparently just read.
“Listen to this Crap! According to this book ‘one’s own truth’ is all that matters.”
“Which book is it?” Asked Dickey.
“It’s called The Fountainhead. It just seems to go on about some guy who decided to defy everything! Man I hope he gets what he deserves. He keeps going on about how being selfish is a virtue. Can you imagine if we lived like this? It would be terrible!”
Bobby responded by saying “My dad owns the store. That’s kid of selfish.”
“Yea but that’s different” said Harry. “If someone really needed something he would give it to them. Besides this book says you should ignore the officials. Imagine if we ignored the officials, nothing would ever get done!”
“Don’t you want to be an official?” Asked Dickey.
“Of course. And I’m gonna be the best! There won’t be any slackers when I’m in charge!” Responded Harry.
“Ha! Oh whatever Harry, you couldn’t even get over here in time yesterday for our hike,” Interjected Bobby.
“That’s different! I had so many chores to do that I couldn’t get here till I did. Besides, we were talking about this book.” He then picked up the book and began reading f aloud from it “The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive.” He then scoffed and tossed the book down onto the table.
Bobby then set his own reading down and spoke as well. “Maybe all that means is that if you want something you should make it yourself and be proud of your work. I mean Mrs. Smith said in class that we should always be proud of our projects even if other people don’t like them.”
Harry responded while pacing back and forth across the room. “Yea but imagine if we all tried to grown the corn or harvest the coal by ourselves and we never shared any of it with each other. And sometimes people try to steal more corn than they are allotted. That’s why we have officials to make sure everyone follows the rules.”
Dickey finally sat his book down for the first time and spoke. “ But what if you don’t want to grow corn? Bobby’s dad works at the shop most of the time and almost never helps out in harvest time. He is too busy.”
“Well maybe he should help out in the harvest more,” Responded Harry. “I heard some of the adults last year complaining about how he never helps and how he charges too much for the corn when he doesn’t even help harvest it.”
“He sells it for the same price here in town as to the big trucks that come from other towns to buy it. Besides, why would you need more corn? Everyone who participates in the harvest gets five bushels of corn anyway,” said Bobby. “Well anyway what are you reading dickey? Anything good?”
“Yea but it’s getting dark, maybe we should see if the lantern still works first” replied Dickey.
“Good idea,” said Harry. “I’ll do it.”
And with that he reached up where the rusty lantern sat by the door. After several minutes he managed to get it lit. He set it down on their makeshift table and stared into the soft glow for a minute. He slowly came back to the room when dickey started talking about his book.
“ It seems pretty interesting. I’m not sure why it would be banned. Did your diary say anything about it Bobby?”
“I’m not sure, ill look while you tell us about what you found,” said Bobby as he began thumbing through the diary.
“Alright, listen to this ‘ A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace.’ That sounds good to me, I mean we should always do our best right?”
Harry responded first. “Of course, everyone should do their best for the betterment of us all. If I was lazy and as a result we don’t get enough corn that hurts everyone. And the officials make sure that happens.”
“I found something” piped up Bobby “look at this.”
May 1st 1951
Apparently the community directors decided that the intercom system spewing out such gems as “ We must always do our best for the benefit of our brothers and sisters” and “A slacker punishes us all” are just not enough anymore. Now they have what they call ‘suggested reading materials’, it’s just more garbage if you ask me. They are having a meeting at the community hall to discuss the latest reading, ‘Common Sense’ by Thomas Paine. I have already read it in my school days, I’m not sure why we are supposed to read it again. Surprisingly, that negro fellow Abrams seems to have a decent head on his shoulders. He isn’t the biggest fan of some of the policies around here either. Particularly the latest announcement of books that have been deemed ‘unsuitable’. They are banning books! We are all supposed to be educated men! Is there no freedom of thought? I think it is time we have an election for new central planners. Maybe I can get Abrams to talk with the guys in his work unit and we can change some things around here.
“ I guess that explains why we found all those books just sitting there in boxes,” said Bobby.
“Yea I guess so,” responded Dickey. “But maybe they shouldn’t have done that. I mean they said that they were all smart people. I don’t think that books make people bad.”
“I’m sure they had good reason,” said Harry. “ I mean just look at the book I read. What if people started believing the stuff it said and started being greedy and selfish. If it caused all kinds of trouble maybe it was better to just get rid of the book altogether.”
“Maybe,” said bobby casually. He then asked Dickey,“So what else does your book say?”
“ Here is another one ‘ What I do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.’ then some stuff is kinda blurred and after that it says ‘It is easy to live in the world after the world’s opinion;’ then its blurred again.” He looked up from the book and said “Why is this book called Self Rice?”
“Let me see it,” Harry replied. “See look, right at the top its called ‘Self- Reliance’. It’s probably just another anti cooperation book that they had to ban so people would stop being so ridiculous.”
“Well listen to this,” said Dickey “he says here that ‘the foolish face of praise’ or the ‘forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in is ‘”asinine”’. He also says that ‘For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure.’”
“That sounds like he is talking about you Harry!” said Bobby as he tried to keep from laughing. “Remember that time Mrs. Smith lectured you about doing your homework in front of the entire class? You just stood there smiling and agreeing with everything she said!”
“Shut up!” screamed Harry. “She was stupid, I lost my homework. I told her that but she wouldn’t believe me.”
“You lost your homework almost every day,” responded Dickey with a smile. “Anyway, listen to this ‘ …truth is handsomer than the affection of love.’ What do you guys think of that?”
“That’s not true. Sometimes telling the truth just hurts people and doesn’t do anyone any good. What do you think would happen if we told our folks we were out in the woods yesterday? It would not have helped anyone, and it would have definitely hurt us,” said Harry.
Bobby replied, “ But how do we know when to tell the truth and when not to? Sometimes we may know something that could hurt other people but we were to afraid to speak up and tell the truth.”
Harry responded by saying” Well if you want you can speak up with your version of truth, but all I know is sometimes it’s better to not know. The truth may be just as bad as the lie.”
“ But at least it’s real. I would rather know the good and the bad instead of a half- truth. Remember your book, where it said that the creator is often hurt my his fellow man. What if people are doing something wrong but they don’t want to believe that it is wrong. They want to keep doing what they are doing because it’s easier than being wrong. People might try to punish you for being right but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” asserted Bobby.
“Whatever, it’s getting late we should all go home” responded Harry. “I’ll see you all tomorrow”
“Night” said Dickey
With that they parted ways for the night. The following afternoon they met up as usual and went right back to their readings. Bobby found a particularly enlightening section of the diary that day, one that changed him forever.
May 29th 1952
We have been down here for a long time and people are getting anxious, myself included. They introduced a lottery system for leadership elections so everyone has a “fair chance” so far that has proven to be a disaster. The last person chosen was Michelson and he is terrible at public speaking! He almost had a heart attack from how nervous he was when he had to address everyone. And beyond that tensions are getting tight around here. People are getting into fights more often and there is even a rumor that someone from another community was even murdered. Of course the officials claim that it was an accident while working on the machines that recycle the water down here. But they are being pressed hard for proof, which they conveniently don’t have because the body was cremated in the furnace. The same ones they burned the books in! I’ll be damned if that doesn’t make that man a martyr. People want news from the surface and they want it now!
June 1st 1952
To respond to the riots and protests that have been going on the Central Planning Committee came up with the idea of another lottery. Only this time it is too see who has to leave. Anyone chosen has to go out to the surface and cannot return for at least two weeks. When they return with news they will be allowed to come back inside and share it with everyone. The ceremony is supposed to take place tomorrow at noon in the CPC main hall.
June 2nd 1952
The ceremony took place today, every head of house came up and drew a ticket. They practically made a damn festival out of it. When the “winner” was chosen he went up to the stage and they gave him a salute and played the National Anthem in the background. It was Abrams, I never thought I would say this but I consider him my friend, and I sincerely hope he comes back soon with good news. But everyone seems too busy thanking him for his service and telling him how eagerly they await his return. I think that he might not come back at all…
June 28th 1952
It has been well over two weeks and we have not heard back from him. Yet nobody has talked of a funeral ceremony for him or anything. It is as if nobody wants to remember that it ever happened. I am going to take a look for myself tonight. Ill use one of the old emergency evacuation tunnels where the machines are.
The last entry was poorly scribbled, but what it said sent chills down bobby’s spine.
Ohh MY GOD OHH MY GODD!! I looked around in the tunnels. I was where the furnace is. There was a pile of books that were to be burned. But there was a HALF BURNED BODY IN the FURNACE!! I recognized the work unit badge! It Was Abrams! They Murdered him! I have to get back!! I have to tell everyone ! They were using him to keep us all down here! They probably figured if nobody came back we would stay down here forever, and they would keep their positions indefinitely. They figured wrong.
Bobby set the book down slowly. All of the color had drained from his face. He then said authoritatively, “Guys get everyone in the town square right now! I’ll meet you there in a half an hour. We have to tell everyone the truth!” And with that he took off in a hurry without explaining any further. Without much question the other boys began rounding everyone up in the town square. At the appointed time and with the entire town gathered before him Bobby went up on to the stage that the Lottery was run from. Everyone, especially Mr. Graves, wanted to know what was going on. They had all stopped their days labor to come listen and they were eager to get back.
“What’s this all about?” yelled out Mr Summers. Several voices in the crowd confirmed the statement with indistinct shouting and murmurers.
“Everyone! I know how the Lottery started! It’s all a lie! We have to end it! It was used to control people!” Shouted Bobby to the crowd.
“Now now” said Mr. Graves “ What are you possibly talking about? Nobody knows how the lottery started. Not even old man Warner, and he’s the oldest living member of this town.”
“No look! I have proof! We were in these caves and we found a dairy !” Shouted Bobby as loudly as he could.
“Lies!” Shouted Warner. “You young kids are all the same! Wanting to disrespect tradition!”
“Now you said you were in some caves?” asked Graves. “You know you shouldn’t stray too far away from town on your own.”
“Please Listen to Me! This is really important! Nobody else has to die!” Shouted Bobby once again.
Mr. Graves turned to Mr. Martin: “ He’s your son you should do something.”
Mr. Martin then shouted in a sharp tone of voice, “Bobby get down here right now!”
“No Dad this is super important! Please you have to listen to me! All of you! Our families used to dwell in those Mountains! ” Said Bobby, almost crying at this point.
Old man Warner shouted, “ Disobedient little Hellion! He’s a Heretic!” Then he began chanting, “Heretic !Heretic! Heretic!”
The crowd picked it up almost immediately and began shouting it as well. Bobby looked down at Harry and Dickey who were both silently sanding in the front.
Bobby then said, “Guys come on! You know what we were reading Come up here! Back me up!”
Mr. Graves looked at Mr. Martin and said, “ You know what you need to do.”
Then with a glazed look in his eyes Mr. Martin slowly reached down and picked up a rock leftover from the Lottery a few days ago and he threw it at his son. Soon the whole crowd was throwing rocks at him.
“Please NO! You have to know the truth!” sobbed Bobby as the tears poured forth. “Why are you doing this?” Bobby pleaded with them several more times, but nobody seemed to listen or care. They simply could not or would not accept that what they were doing was wrong.
Bobby looked down at his friends just long enough to see Harry screaming and throwing rocks with the rest of the crowd and dickey just standing there watching while tears rolled slowly down his cheeks.