Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Alternate Ending of Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery"

Editor's Note: For those unfamiliar with "The Lottery", written by Shirley Jackson, it is a story centred around a small town that honours a year-round tradition of drawing slips of paper. The family that draws the slip of paper with the black spot on it enters the second round of The Lottery. The Hutchinsons, who drew the black dot, then had to draw again. It was Tessie Hutchinson, Bill's wife, who showed up late to the lottery, who drew the black slip. It is then that Tessie is stoned to death by the town's locals as a sacrifice to ensure a good harvest.

The story in its original form got a lot of negative criticisms among readers. Many cancelling their subscriptions to The New Yorker, in which the story debuted. It was even banned in the Union of South Africa. However, what The New Yorker had neglected to tell the world is that Shirley Jackson had written a far worse ending in an earlier draft. It has not been seen by any eyes other than the author and editor of the publishing. That is, until now.

"It's Tessie," Mr. Summers said, and his voice was hushed. "Show us her paper. Bill."

Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd.

"All right, folks." Mr. Summers said. "Let's finish quickly."

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box.

Bill looked at Tessie with sad eyes. She looked at him and nodded. It was tradition.

"Let's get this over with," spat Delacroix.

The locals gathered around Tessie in a circle.

Tessie let out a small sob. "Okay," she said.

She picked up a rock, the size of a softball, and whipped it at Old Man Warner. "Yow!" He exclaimed. Tessie threw another at Mr. Summers. "Gah!"

Over the next forty hours, Tessie threw rocks at the villagers as they stood around her. One by one, each member of the community fell dead. Clyde Dunbar's left eye was knocked out by a sizeable chunk. Mrs. Delacroix ended up choking on a pebble that Tessie threw. A tall boy bent down to help her. "Let 'er be!" Old Man Warner demanded, before being brained by a giant hunk of limestone.

It was Mr. Adams who suffered the worst fate, getting hit over and over again in the testicles. It got to a point where he longed for death, but it did not come quick enough. He pissed his pants to further his humilities before he passed.

Forty hours later and the last man standing was Tessie's beloved husband, Bill. "I'm so tired," gasped Tessie. "I know," Bill answered. "But...the crops." Tessie nodded. She pelted him with granite, basalt, pumice, and even the deadlier quartz.

Finally, after being pounded in the chest by a large marble (that her very own son had selected, unbeknownst to her), Bill fell. Dead.

Tessie fell to her knees and cried.

"Waaaaaah!!!" She wailed. "Waaaaaahhh!!! Boo hoo hoo hoo! (Sniffle) (Choked Gasps) Bwaaaaaaah haaaah haaaah haaaaaah!!!!! Boo hoo! A-boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Wah!"


Editor's Post Note: Gene Kravitz, the man who published the piece had read this very manuscript and telephoned Shirley Jackson at her residence. Kravitz informed her of a few problems that he felt needed to be changed. For one, if this was an annual tradition as mentioned within the story, then how would it be possible for there to be any villagers currently? Kravitz advised Jackson that it might interest her in maybe switching it up a little. That is, having Tessie stoned to death by the villagers, as opposed to the villagers being stoned to death by Tessie. Kravitz also found that Tessie's sobbing monologue could use some trimming. Some.