Islam in Shirley Jackson's the Lottery/L'ISLAM DANS LA LOTERIE DE SHIRLEY JACKSON
Al-Joulan, Nayef Ali, Cross - Cultural Communication
This paper examines a cross-cultural concern in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, underlining the story's striking allusions to Islam which can be categorically seen in the following five aspects: the symbolic black-box, stoning, the status of women, the fixed annual date(s) of the lottery, and the act of calling the participants in the lottery five times (calls), in addition to further points regarding characterization and scapegoat. It turns out that The Lottery is a carefully-woven complexity of symbols allegorizing Islam. Above all, Jackson's symbolic black box shares a great deal of the distinctions of the Ka'ba and the Black Stone and the brutal ancient rite she recruits echoes the two aspects of stoning in Islamic Hajj and Islam's penal law regarding adultery. Besides, the annual dates of the lottery reflect on annual rituals in Islam, with additional significance of the twenty-seventh (and twenty-sixth) day of the month. Further, the status of Jackson's women perhaps alludes to propaganda-views of women's secondary position in Islam, and the story possibly points to Islamic prayer. Nonetheless, the allegory of Islam in The Lottery seems to reflect Jackson's vague, confused, superficial, and stereotypical perception of Islam and Islamic rituals.
Key words: Shirley Jackson; The Lottery; Islam; Symbolism; allusion; cross-cultural stereotypes
Résumé: Cet article examine une préoccupation interculturelle dans La Loterie de Shirley Jackson, en soulignant les allusions frappantes de l'histoire vis-à-vis de l'Islam qui peut être catégoriquement vu dans les cinq aspects suivants: la symbolique «boîte noire», la lapidation, le statut des femmes, la date annuelle fixe de la loterie et l'acte d'appeler cinq fois les participants à la loterie (appels), en plus des points supplémentaires concernant la caractérisation et la désignation de boucs émissaires. Il s'avère que La Loterie est une complexité soigneusement tissée de symboles allégorisant l'Islam. Surtout, la boîte noire symbolique se réfère aux caractéristiques de la Ka'ba, et les termes de la "pierre noire" et du "rite antique brutal" qu'elle utilise renvoient aux deux aspects de la lapidation du Hajj islamique et au droit pénal islamique concernant l'adultère.En outre, la date annuelle de la loterie reflète les rites annuels dans l'Islam, avec une signification additionnelle de la vingt-septième (et vingt-sixième) jour du mois.De plus, le statut de la femme de Jackson fait allusion peut-être à la vue propagande de la position secondaire des femmes dans l'Islam, et l'histoire pointe peut-être sur la prière islamique.Néanmoins, l'allégorie de l'Islam dans La Loterie semble reflète une conception vague, confuse, superficielle et stéréotypée de Jackson sur l'Islam et sur des rituels islamiques.
Mots-Clés: Shirley Jackson; La Loterie; Islam; symbolisme; allusion; intercultural; stéréotypes
"It isn't fair, it isn't right" Mrs. Hutchinson cries in The Lottery (254), Shirley Jackson's much phrased story, mostly anthologized as an example of and exercise into reading and decoding symbolism in literature. A shocking narrative about scapegoat, The Lottery is built on a narrative structure that makes the reader share in the criminal act, for it is too late in the story when the reader does realize that the winner of the lottery will be stoned to death.2 As such, it is not surprising that when the story was published in The New Yorker in 1948, a significant date indeed, it was received with public outrage, whereby people wanted Jackson to frankly reveal her intention behind writing the story. American readers felt antagonized by the narrative and demanded clarification from the author. In her biography of Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman reported that when the story was published "no New Yorker story had ever received" a similar response by readers, hundreds of whom sent letters that were marred by "bewilderment, speculation, and old-fashioned abuse" (Friedman 63). KyIa Ward also noted that "The New Yorker was besieged with letters" for weeks afterwards, some protesting about the "violent and pointless story, some praising the brilliant moral allegory, but most demanding to know what it meant" (Ward).
The story has been mainly thematically read in the light of emphasis on the evil nature of humanity that lurks beneath the surface of ordinary life, particularly in rural American communities, sometimes related to a geme called the 'family tale' . In such readings, Jackson's narrative and her other works were considered treatments of everyday life, family life, prejudice, neurosis and identity. However, the feminist note is almost evident in all critical responses to the story. As Peter Kosenko argued:
a survey of what little has been written about 'The Lottery' reveals two general critical attitudes: first, that it is about man's ineradicable primitive aggressiveness, or what Cleanth Brooks and Robert Perm Warren call his 'all-too-human tendency to seize upon a scapegoat'; second, that it describes man's victimization by, in Helen Nebeker's words, 'unexamined and unchanging traditions which he could easily change if he only realized their implications.' (Kosenko, 27; Brooks and Warren 74; Nebker 103)3
Kosenko's main concern was to underline that "[m]issing from both of these approaches, however, is a careful analysis of the abundance of social detail that links the lottery to the ordinary social practices of the village. No mere 'irrational' tradition, the lottery is an ideological mechanism", by which he highlighted the story's reinforcement of "the village's hierarchical social order by instilling the villagers with an unconscious fear that if they resist this order they might be selected in the next lottery." (Kosenko 27) Kosenko concluded that the story revealed how the position of the female was determined by her socio-economic status. Within the same line of inquiry, Horst Brinkman underlined the story's critique of deceptive democracy represented by the ambiguity by which "the lottery . . . suggests 'election' rather than selection" (103, trans. Kosenko), the elected or selected being a female to be tortured.
The feminist touch is also central in Bette Reagan's "The Haunted World of Shirley Jackson', where Reagan read the story as an autobiography of an ugly and intelligent woman being like most of her heroines: "MerriCat in 'We Have Always Lived in The Castle' would have been that person. Eleanor Vance in "The Haunting of Hill House' would have too. . . These fictional females felt deeply, they were misunderstood and alone. They were ugly and hated" (Reagan). As Judy Oppenheimer, in her biography of Jackson, puts it, Jackson's mother "too would have liked a daughter who was beautiful and a fool; instead, she got Shirley, who would never for one instant be either" (Oppenheimer, quoted in Reagan). Likewise, Jonathan Lethem, in "Monstrous acts and little murders" underlined the significance of Jackson's "upbringing by a suburban mother obsessed with appearances" (Lethem). Lethem read the story against the background of Jackson's life in North Bennington, a tiny village in Vermont, linking the narrative to the "reflexive anti-semitism and anti-intellectualism" of the townspeople (Lethem). Interestingly, Lethem revealed that Jackson had two different characters, the shy, anxious and lonely girl on the one hand and the "the expulsive iconoclast, brought out of her shell by marriage to Hyman - himself a garrulous egoist very much in the tradition of Jewish '50's New York intellectuals" (Lethem). It is to be noted here that Jackson's outrageous traits are attributed to the influence of her husband, this second nature of Jackson along with the intellectual and Jewish background of her husband being "that [which] the town feared, resented and... occasionally persecuted" (Lethem). Thus, the contexts of Jackson's upbringing and her marriage-life contributed to the "agoraphobia and psychosis" she developed and which thus influenced her art (Lethem). But I would like to underline the influence of her husband on her character. In fact, other critics read the story as a comment on the holocaust, perhaps relating that to the background of Jackson's Jewish husband, the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman (Kennedy and Gioia 255). In this last sense, there emerges a cross-cultural concern in the story, a matter that I here attempt to extend to include the Muslim world.4
Responding to readers' queries about her intentions, Jackson said in the July 22, 1948 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to chock the story's readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives" (emphasis added, Friedman 64; see also Hyman viii). In fact, she did shock her readers by writing that story. However, she left the required explanation for a more ambiguous revelation, simply describing what she was supposed to do as 'difficult', a task critics have been assigned to unravel and unveil. Of particular concern, I think that the ambiguous reference to 'a particularly brutal ancient rite' is in need of utmost attention; defined as brutal and ancient, it is not yet identified though ascribed as particular. Myth critics have not disclosed a particular ancient myth as the source of the story. It is here where Jackson found it difficult to reveal what she simply left camouflaged in her narrative, the short story being a literary genre known for utmost concentration. She definitely knew what she had in mind concerning that 'particularly brutal ancient rite' but chose to keep it classified. Recalling Kosenko's earlier argument concerning what has been missing in critical readings of The Lottery, I think that identifying what Jackson meant by the particularly brutal ancient rite is a major issue which I intend to examine in the light of the story's striking allusions to Islam.
It is neither fair nor right, perhaps even criminal authorial and critical acts, to tell falsehoods, partial truth or overlook essential aspects of truth, whether on the part of the author or the critic commenting on or reading The Lottery. Published in 1948, the story cannot be separated from the Arab-Israeli conflict which in that year witnessed the occupation of Palestine, a matter that can be but absent from Jackson's home by then. Nonetheless, I intend here to draw attention not to the Arab-Israeli conflict but rather to larger striking allusions to Islam in the story, matters that can be categorically seen in the following five main aspects: the central symbolic black-box (its color, shape, and history of its making and remaking), stoning (the act itself, and the distinctive process of selecting stones), the status of women in a patriarchal society, the fixed annual date(s) of the lottery and the act of calling the participants in the lottery five times (calls), in addition to further points regarding characterization and scapegoat.
To start with, Jackson's description of the black box is poignant with significance; she writes:
The black box had been put into use even before Old Man Warner was bom, the oldest man in town. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here. . . The black box grew shabbier each year, by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained. (Emphasis added, 249)
Old Man Warner is a peculiar name, masculine, old, frightening, alarming, and ominously bad; he could be the constant reminder of a fierce-punisher type of god. The reference to the 'first people' perhaps suggests Adam and Eve; 'there was a story', might suggest borrowing details from a precursor source, pertaining to Old Man Warner's ancestors, or any community that lived long before him, perhaps those who performed the ancient brutal rite she mentioned above.5 These implications may have bearings on a conceivable reference to Islam. One cannot overlook the similarities between the description of the black box itself and two of the most significant Islamic icons, Al-Ka'ba and the Black Stone, the second a major component of the first. In fact, Jackson's description of the black box seems a laconic summary of the history of Al-Ka'ba and the Black Stone. Hence, a detailed account of the history of Al-Ka'ba and the Black Stone is essential for explicating the relation between Jackson's black box and the Ka'ba, the holiest place in Islam, located in Mecca.
The city of Mecca (also spelled Makkah) is Islam's most sacred city and home to the Ka'ba and the Al-Masjid Al-Haram. It is known for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam. Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael's descendants. In the seventh century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city, which played an important role in the early history of Islam. The Ka'ba ('circle pit') is a cuboidal building located inside the al-Masjid al-Haram mosque. The Ka'ba is the Muslim's qibla, the direction they face during prayer, wherever their location on Earth might be. It is around the Ka'ba that Muslims make the ritual of circumambulation (Tawaf) when they perform the Hajj (pilgrimage) and the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).6 The gathering of the Muslims around the Ka'ba in these occasions seems echoed in Jackson's The Lottery when the people assemble in the square. According to the Quran, the Ka'ba was built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael):
Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for Al-Alamîn (the mankind and jinns). In it are manifest signs (for example), the Maqâm (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham); whosoever enters it, he attains security. And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka'bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one's conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the Alamîn (mankind and jinns). (Al Imran: 96-97)7
Islamic traditions assert that the Ka'ba reflects a house in heaven called al-Baytu 1-Ma'mur and that it was first built by the first man, Adam, a matter perhaps echoed ? Jackson's reference to the 'first people' who initially built the black box. Ibrahim and Ismail rebuilt the Ka'ba on the old foundations.8 There was a disagreement on the reason for calling it Ka'ba, though some argue that it was called the Ka'ba because it was square, another connection with Jackson's black box (Azraqi 58-66).
A significant feature of the Ka'ba, its eastern cornerstone, is the Black Stone (al-Hajar-ul-Aswad), a monument of reverence believed by Muslims to date back to the time of Adam and Eve. Pilgrims often try, if possible, to kiss the Black Stone, following the example of Prophet Muhammad.9 Tradition has it that the Black Stone was white when it came to earth before becoming black by the peoples' sins; one may here referto Jackson's black box which "grew shabbier each year" (249). The Black Stone is broken into a number of pieces from damage inflicted during the Middle Ages. Thus, it has been held together by a silver frame. As for the origins and history of the Black Stone according to the Islamic tradition, the Stone fell from Heaven during the time of Adam and Eve. It was later removed and hidden in the hill of Abu Qubays near Mecca. When Abraham rebuilt the Ka'ba, the Archangel Gabriel brought the stone out of hiding and gave it to him (Wensinck 317; Mohamed). Then, as seen earlier, Prophet Muhammad played a key part in the history of the Black Stone even before his prophetic revelations; he was in Mecca during the rebuilding of the Ka'ba and he settled a dispute between Meccan clans quarreling over which clan should set the Black Stone in place. His solution was to have all the clan elders raise the cornerstone on a cloak, and then Prophet Muhammad set the stone into its final place (Elliott).
Consequently, having surveyed the history of the Ka'ba and the Black Stone, the holiest Islamic place and monument, it turns out that Jackson's black box definitely shares a great deal of the distinctions of the history of their building and rebuilding along with their shape and color. Even when superficially speaking, both the black box and the Ka'ba (along with the Black Stone) are black, made of reminiscent pieces of an older construction and associated with the earliest type of social settlement in their place. However, the significance of the comparison transcends these details to the domain of cross-cultural (mis)understanding amongst nations and religions, a matter that stands responsible for allegorical (mis)representation. Nonetheless, having built the general frame for his narrative in grounding her plot around the symbolic black box, Jackson's misrepresentation of Islam moves further.
The story's brutal rite of stoning a human (a woman) to death is part of the larger allegory of Islam Jackson builds in her narrative, a rite that is closely associated with the Ka'ba and with the penal system in Islam.10 First of all, stoning is a major rite of Hajj, called 'Ramy al-Jamarat'. At Mina, the pilgrims perform Ramy al-Jamarat, throwing Satan with pebbles to signify their defiance of the Devil. This symbolizes Ibrahim's (Abraham) throwing stones at Satan who attempted to seduce Abraham not to sacrifice his son Ismail to God's demand. Three times Abraham refused Satan's challenges and hence pilgrims stone Satan three times at three designated pillars, each of which marks the location of one of Abraham's refusals.11 In fact, the description of stones in Jackson's story seems similar to that of the stones used in Islamic stoning of Stan during pilgrimage, for Muslims have to pick smooth stones of a small size from certain places in Mecca (Mohamed; Shafaat; Shariati). In Jackson's story, "Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stone, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones" (emphasis added, 248). This emphasis on the size and shape of the stones is repeated later: "Mrs. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said, gasping for breath, ? can't run at all...' The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles" (emphasis added, 254). Nonetheless, there is also a different attribute of the stones in the story: "Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands" (254). 12As such, one may turn to the other case of stoning in Islam, namely the punishment of an adulterer, where the stones used have to be of a similar size, particularly that stoning in Jackson's narrative is associated with a scapegoat, a woman. Scapegoat sheds light on Muslim pilgrims' act of sacrificing a sheep during the Hajj. However, the fact that a woman is sacrificed in the story brings into account stoning to death in Islam's penal system.
In Islam, the penalty for adultery (called Zina) is one hundred stripes if the person is not married and stoning until death if he/she is married. The Quranic obligation is that:
The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. (Al-Noor: 2)
The punishment of an unmarried person guilty of Zina in Islam is one hundred lashes, stated clearly in the Quran, whereas the punishment for the married adulterer or adulteress is stoning to death, though not stated in this Quranic verse, which is the only place where the punishment for adultery is ascribed in the Quran (Al-Khuli; Salah El-Din; Coulson; Faruki). Thus, there were those who refused to accept 'stoning to death' as penalty for a married person committing adultery, as in the case of Al-Kawarij.13 Stoning to death is attributed to Prophet Muhammad's sayings (Hadith) and practice.14 When it comes to the manner of executing the punishment, particularly in the case of stoning to death, it is agreed that stones should be of a handful size, almost echoed in the second type of stones mentioned in Jackson's narrative. Concerning the execution of the punishment, M. I. Siddiqi explains, "When an adulterer is to be stoned to death, he [or she] should be carried to some barren place void of houses or cultivation, and the Rajm (lapidation) should be executed, first by the witnesses, then by the Qadi [judge], and lastly by the rest of the by-standers. When a woman is stoned, a hole or excavation should be dug to receive her, as deep as her waist" (Siddiqi 1994b, 72). The case might be paralleled in Jackson's narrative: "Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her" (emphasis added, 254).
In fact, this should not negate the distinction, overlooked by Jackson, between punitive lapidation and sacrificial lapidation. The drawing of lots in the latter is designed to demonstrate the innocence of the victim and thus that the victim is an acceptable sacrifice. Islamic lapidation is designed to kill somebody because he or she has committed an offence and is guilty. As regards the Islamic punishment for adultery, it is to be noted also that serious precautious measures are to be taken before the punishment be inflicted, a matter that sometimes makes the execution of the punishment almost impossible to take place. In addition, Adultery according to Islam has a specific definition which differs from non-Islamic perceptions and civil laws and hence a great deal of differentiation between cases of adultery takes place before the punishment is determined. The punishment itself is restricted by specific rules and, in cases other than stoning to death, is meant to humiliate rather than torture. A pregnant woman and a sick person may not be punished until that state be changed (Ai-Ani and Al-Omari 255-258, see also Siddiqi 1994b, 54-66; 68-74).
Nonetheless, the sacrificed female brings into account the position of women in Islam. It is quite interesting that the possible allusion to the fate of the nineteenth-century Anne Hutchinson pertains also to "the status of women in the literature of Puritan and colonial New England," whereby the example of Anne Hutchinson underlines the "more disturbing social order" (McQuade et al 71; 72). In addition to being exposed to such brutal stoning to death - an act that targets women only-the female in Jackson' s story is also presented as inferior contrasted to man. She comes second and therefore is secondary to man who represents the first and primary. The story seems to isolate women as a tyrannized and inferiorized community or individuals: "the girls stood aside, talking among themselves, looking over their shoulders at the boys" (249). A woman's position and status is determined by that of her husband: "soon the men began to gather... The women... came shortly after their menfolk... Soon the women, standing by their husbands... " (249). Even within the family, men stick to their fellow males: "Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother" (249). As for social reckoning, men are the criterion by which representation is decided: "there were lists to make up - of heads of families, heads of households in each family, members of household in each family" (250). Thus, female identity is contingent upon that of the male; asking who is to draw on behalf of Clyde Dunbar who broke his leg, '"Me, I guess' a woman said, and Mr. Summers turned to look at her. 'Wife draws for her husband,' Mr. Summers said 'Don't you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?'" and as for the Watson family, it was their boy: "Tm drawing for m'mother and me' . . . several voices in the crowd said things like 'good fellow, Jack,' and 'Glad to see your mother's got a man to do it'" (251). Furthermore, marriage is an institution by which the female becomes subordinated to her husband: "Daughters draw with their husbands' families"(253). As such, Jackson's story seems to further allude to the status of women in Islamic society, reflecting a superficial understanding of Islam though. As Siddiqi puts it, "in social context, the Holy Quran and the Sunnah recognized man as head of the family" (Siddiqi 1994a, 33; see also al-Ati 20-23; Levy; Al-Siba'i). It is stated in the Quran that "And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses, etc.) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obethence and respect, etc.) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise" (Al-Baqarah: 228); and elsewhere:
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obethent (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property, etc. (Al-Nisa: 34)
It is believed that Islam gives man this position partly in the light of man's utter responsibility for providing the family economically. It is worth noting here that Jackson's story seems to comment on the socio-economic status of women. As argued by Kosenko, "Women, then, have a distinctly subordinate position in the socio-economic hierarchy of the village. . . because they work in the home and not within the larger economy in which work is regulated by money, they are treated by men and treat themselves as inferiors" (Kosenko 29). For example one of the female characters is called Mrs. Adams, rather than Eve. One major case of controversy over women's equal financial rights in Islam, which might be relevant here, is the unequal distribution of inheritance whereby Islamic rules determine that the female receives a half-share compared to the male's full share.15 Whether economically or socially, and along with other credible allusions to Islam in Jackson's story, the status of women might be part of the larger allegory The Lottery makes of Islam. Nonetheless, the question of equality between the sexes in Islam, Siddiqi explains, should be understood in Islamic context where the matter is that of 'ethical equality, equal "moral values" along with recognizing the different roles of both, the end being an equality of both man and woman as "human beings" (Siddiqi 1994a, 33-35).1
The story has further potential allusions to Islam.17 Early in the narrative, Jackson underlines the significance of dates in the annual performance of the lottery: "The morning of June 27th" and "in some towns... had to be started on June 26th" (248). The date of twenty seventh of June (and its eve on the twenty sixth) is also widely significant in the fertility rituals of pagan Western Europe close to the summer solstice. Aestas, the Roman Goddess of Summer, was celebrated on twenty seventh June, and there are celebrations right across Europe around the Feast of Saint John on the twenty third and twenty fourth of June, along with a whole host of others in the last week of June. In addition to the significance of these particular dates, as will be further clarified, they seem, in general, allusions to annual rituals in Islam. Pilgrimage (Hajj) and Ramadan are, for example, the names of months in the Islamic calendar, the first followed by the bigger Eid (Al-Adha), the second by the lesser Eid (Al-Fitr). Muslims perform their Hajj and celebrate their bigger Eid at fixed dates each year, whereas for Ramadan (the month of fasting), and lesser Eid, they have fixed dates too, but sometimes, due to geographical differences, Islamic states may start these festivities within a day difference, a matter that is perhaps echoed in Jackson's reference to two dates of the lottery in different villages: '26th' and '27th'.
Above and beyond, the '27th' is a significant date in Ramadan, marking the night when God revealed the holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad; that was on the twenty-seventh night of Ramadan, called the Night of Destiny (Laylat-ul Qadr), in the year 13 B.H. (before Hijrah), which corresponds to 610 A.D. As stated in the Quran, "The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'ân, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month he must observe Saum (fasts) that month" (Al-Baqarah: 185); "Verily! We have sent it (this Qur'ân) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree). And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is? The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rûh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] by Allah's Permission with all Decrees. Peace! (All that night, there is Peace and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn" (Al-Qadr: 1-5). In certain countries, depending on the sighting of the moon, Ramadan may start a day before other countries. Therefore, Muslims celebrating Laylat-ul Qadr on the twenty-seventh of Ramadan in certain states where Ramadan started a day earlier, are doing so on the twenty-sixth of Ramadan in other countries where the month of fasting started a day later.18
Nonetheless, the twenty-seventh is also the date of an important Islamic event, Laylat-ul-Isra and Mi'raj (the Night of the Prophet's Journey and Ascension), which took place on the twenty-seventh of Raj ab, the seventh month in the Islamic calendar. It is the night when Prophet Muhammad was taken to 'the furthest mosque' in Jerusalem and ascended to the heavens. The occasion is mentioned many a time in the Quran: "Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Harâm (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer" (Al-Isra: 1). There has been controversy over the reality or visionary nature of the journey, even amongst Muslim scholars. Some commentators suggested it was a vision sent to Prophet Muhammad in his sleep while orthodox views are emphatic on the physical, yet miraculous, nature of the journey (Busse 1991; Busse 1996; Bevan; Wansgrough 68). 19 Muslims celebrate the occasion each year. It was during the journey of ascension that God ordered the Prophet (and Muslims) to perform Salat five times a day. Interestingly, the participants of the lottery have "to be called four or five times" (249), a possible allusion to prayer in Islam. Prayer (Salat) is one of the five pillars of Islam and Muslims are called to perform prayer by the Mu'azin who recites the five calls (Azan/athan) at certain times from dawn to evening, and he does so in the mosque in a manner that is hearable to people. Prayer is meant to serve as an unmediated communication between the individual and God. Nonetheless, there are different types of prayer, chief among which is the Friday prayer called Salat Al-Jumu'ah (Arabic for 'to gather, bring together or congregate'), when Muslims should to go to the mosque, listen to the Oration (Khutba), and do a congregational prayer (Al-Jumuah: 9-10). This gathering of Muslims in the mosque along with the five prayers and prayer calls might be seen in the light of the gathering of the people of the village in the square in Jackson's story, where they are called five times.
One more potential interesting allusion to Islam is Jackson's use of the word 'Zanini' (252), which might be related to the Islamic/ Arabic term Zani or Zany, meaning adulterer. The name Zannini has been related to Italian and Greek origins, diminutive of Zanni. Zanni is Italian and Greek (Zannis), from the personal name Zanni or Zani. As for Zani, it is also Italian, from the personal name Z(u)an(n)i. Zani or Zanni is a comic figure in the Commedia del' Arte, and is also the origin of the English word zany.20 As for the English word 'zany', meaning crazy, madcap, wacky, screwball, screwy, wild etc., it suggests an act of breaking or violating a norm leading to social humiliation, as is the case of a punished adulterer and his family, whether exposed to a hundred stripes or stoned to death. Having in mind the aforementioned plausible connections between Jackson's narrative and the Islamic stoning-to-death penalty for adultery, the word 'Zanini' might be viewed as an allusion to the Islamic term 'zany'.
To conclude, Jackson's The Lottery is a carefully-woven complexity of symbols making an allegory of Islam. Above all, Jackson's symbolic black box definitely reflects a great deal of the distinctions of the Ka' ba and the Black Stone and the brutal ancient rite she recruits in the narrative echoes the two aspects of stoning in Islamic Hajj and Islam's penal law regarding adultery. Besides, the annual dates of the lottery reflect on annual rituals in Islam, with additional significance of the twenty-seventh (and twenty-sixth) day of the month. Further, the status of Jackson's women perhaps alludes to propaganda- views of the secondary position of women in Islam, and the story possibly points to Islamic prayer. Nonetheless, the allegory of Islam in The Lottery seems to reflect Jackson's vague, confused, superficial and somewhat stereotypical perception of Islam and Islamic rituals and rites. There is no concluding evidence that Jackson read about Islam, but the illusions to Islam in her story are not superficial to be dismissed or overlooked. It might be worth further investigation into the potential sources (social, literary, historical, political, or otherwise) which provided Jackson with such a perception of Islam, notwithstanding the probable influence of her husband in that regard.
2 All quotations from the story are from Jackson and page references will be cited parenthetically.
3 For more on this, see Bagchee 8-9; Brinkman 101-109; Hagopian 128-32; Heilman 384-85; Lainoff 543-44.
4 Exploration of the cross-cultural and transcultural nature of scapegoating can be found in James Frazer's The Golden Bough.
5 In fact, boxes tend to be ominous in myth, such as Pandora's, and black is usually an ominous color. The wooden chest is associated with sacrificial myth as early as the story of Osiris.
6 The Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is a pilgrimage to Mecca, the largest annual pilgrimage in the world (Wilson), which must be performed by every Muslim who has the required physical and financial ability (Al-Baqarah: 158; 188-189; 197-199); (Al-Hajj: 27-36). As stated in the Quran and history sources, the Pilgrimage to Mecca took place before Islam by Ibrahim and Ishmail, but later became an established pillar of Islam and was carried out once by Prophet Muhammad. Among other activities, each pilgrim revolves seven times around the Ka'ba and stones Satan with pebbles (Wilson; Armstrong; Bianchi; Shariati; Mohammad).
7 All references to the holy Quran are from the translation of Al-Hilali and Khan; references are cited parenthetically with the name of the Surah and the number of the verse. The Ka'ba also features in various places in the Quran (Al-Ma'idah: 97; Al-Baqarah: 127).
8 There is controversy over who originally built the Ka'ba, the angels, Adam, Sheeth, Ibrahim (Abraham) or Ismail. Some arguments name Ibrahim as the renovator of the Ancient House with Ismail's help, a matter supported by the Quranic verse: "Our Lord, accept from us: Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing" (Al-Baqarah: 127). Five years before the start of the Prophet's mission, there came a flood which destroyed the Ka'ba. Quraysh, divided among themselves, worked on rebuilding the Ka'ba but when the time came to put the Black Stone in place, a dispute erupted over which clan should have the honor of fixing the Black Stone in its place, a matter they agreed to leave to the decision of Muhammad because they trusted his wisdom and judgment. He got his robe, and putting the Stone on it, asked the elderly members of all the clans to hold the sides of the robe and raise it together, before he finally fixed it in its proper place. The Ka'ba was repaired or rebuilt a number of times across history. The Ka'ba was held in high esteem by various nations including, in addition to Arabs before Islam, the Hindus, the Persians, the Chaledonians, the Jews, and the Christians. For more on this, see Wensinck 317; Peterson; Hawting; Elliott; Mohamed; Armstrong; Crone; Bryce; Guillaume; Grunebaum; al-Mubarkpuri; Trubshaw.
9 The Prophet asserted the sanctity of the Black stone in many hadiths (Prophet's sayings), associating it with Jannah (Paradise) and expiation for one's sins; Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet said: "By Allah, Allah will bring it forth on the Day of Judgment, and it will have two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak, and it will testify in favor of those who touched it in sincerity" (At-Tirmidhi). As for its nature and composure, the Black Stone has been described variously as basalt lava, an agate, a piece of natural glass, or a stony meteorite (Grunebaum 18).
10 In addition, in tracing Islamic antecedents, one should not overlook much longer pre-Islamic mythic traditions, which might be some of Jackson's sources. Stoning in Ancient Greece is described by Frazer in The Golden Bough, and occurs or is threatened in the Torah and Old and New Testaments, and in rain-making practices in Africa (Frazer, Chapter 58).
11 After stoning the devil, the pilgrims sacrifice a sheep, in accordance with the story of Ibrahim, who, in place of his son, sacrificed a sheep that Allah had provided as a substitute. Throwing the pebbles to stone Satan is a sign of following Prophet Abraham, a symbolic humiliation of Satan and an assertive measure not to let the devil misguide the pilgrims. (Mohamed).
12 The use of small stones which will not kill the victim in the first few strikes is a rule in Iran, and of course implicates all those involved equally in the killing but the point here is that Mrs Delacroix chooses a very big stone as she is the victim's friend and probably intends a mercifully speedy killing. That is also why she tells her other friend to hurry up.
13 For more on this, see Ai-Ani and Al-Omari 249-255 and Siddiqi 1994b, 57-66. In a paper addressing the issue, Ahmad Shafaat stated that "I have examined the controversial question of punishment for adultery in Islam... and have come to reject the stoning penalty as un-Islamic" (Shafaat).
14 For those sayings of the Prophet and the cases where stoning to death took place during the life of the Prophet, see Ai-Ani and Al-Omari 255-257 and Siddiqi 1994b, 53-72.
15 According to the Shi'i scheme, both male and female get the same share. In fact, the economic rights of women in Islam are not to be restrictively seen in this narrow sense for that would definitely be a maimed argument; for a fuller discussion of the issue including references to Quran and Sunnah, see Al-Ati 267-270; see also Khan).
16 For a brief discussion of the position of women before Islam, in other civilizations and religions, such as Greece, China, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity, see Siddiqi 1994a, 6-13. For the status of women in Islam, see Siddiqi 1994a, 15-20, and for the roles of members of the family in Islam, see al-Ati 146-217.
17 I may suggest a likely connection between the characters of Prophet Muhammad and Old Man Warner and the Prophet and Mr. Summers, particularly in the light of the latter 's following description "He was a roundfaced, jovial man. . . and people were sorry for him because he was a scold" (249).
18 The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. Eleven days shorter than the Georgian solar calendar, the lunar cycle changes each year, and with that Ramadan's dates change. Each year Ramadan starts about ten days earlier than the year before whereby every Muslim will have fasted all days of the year after thirty-six years of fasting Ramadan. The month of Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon. The exact time of Ramadan sometimes varies from place to place, depending on the rise or appearance of the moon in each country.
19 Prophet Muhammad's nocturnal journey from Mecca to Jerusalem is called Isra, the first part of the trip, whereas the Mi'raj is the Prophet's ascension to heaven, the second part of the journey. Islamic traditions report that the Prophet made the journey riding the Buraq (a winged creature) accompanied by the archangel Gabriel and that during the trip Prophet Muhammad met Abraham, Moses, and Jesus and led them in prayer as their Imam or leader. The journey also features in other verses in the Quran (Al-Isra: 60; An-Najm: 13-18).
20 See Ancestry.com. The Zannini Name in History, 2007; see also: http://www.ancestry.com/facts/Zannini-family-history.ashx. Perhaps further research is required to pursue prospective relations between the name in Italian and Greek on the one hand and Arabic on the other. The name Zanini may also indicate that even when America takes in non-Anglophone immigrants, the culture does not change but maintains its traditional violence. Someone who may have fled persecution elsewhere is nonetheless prepared to participate in it in America, as in the McCarthyite witch-hunts with which the story has parallels.
Abdel-Wahab, Salah El-Din. (1963). An Introduction to Islamic Law. Cairo: al-Azhar Press.
Al-Ani, Mohammad Shallal and Al-Omari, Eisa. (1998). Figh Al-Oqubat fish-shari'ah Al-Islamiyah (Penal Figh in Islamic Shari 'ah). Amman: Dar Al-Masirah.
Al-Ati, Hammadah Abd. (1977). The Family Structure in Islam. American Trust Publication.
Al-Azraqi, Muhammad ibn Abd Allah. Akhbar Makkah. Vol. 1. Ed. Ferdinand Wuestenfeld, Chroniken der Stadt Mekka, Band 1, Leipzig 1858, reprint Beyrouth 1964.
Al-Khuli, Muhammad Ali. (\9%l).Penal Codes in Islam. Amman: Dar Al-Falah.
Al-Mubarkpuri, Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman. (2002). Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum The Sealed Nectar): Biography of the Prophet. Dar-us-Salam Publications.
Al-Siba'i, Mustafa. (1962). al-Mar'ah bayn al-Figh wal-Qanun Woman between Figh and Law). Damascus: Damascus UP.
Armstrong, Karen. (2002). Islam: A Short History. Modem Library Chronicles.
Arnold, Sir Thomas and Guillaume, Alfred (eds.). (1947). The Legacy of Islam. London: Oxford UP.
At-Tirmidhi, Abu Isa Muhammad ibn Isa as-Sulami. As-Sahih. Cairo, 1292 AH.
Bagchee, Shyamal. (1979). Design of Darkness in Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'. Notes on Contemporary Literature. Vol9, No. 4, pp.8-9.
Bevan, A. (1914). Mohammad's Ascension to Heaven. Stuthen zu Semitischen Philologie und Religionsgeschichte Julius Wellhausen. Topleman, pp.53-54.
Bianchi, Robert R. (2004). Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Brinkman, Horst. (1976). Shirley Jackson, 'The Lottery' (1948). Die Amerikanische Short Story der Gegenwart. Ed. Peter Freese. Berlin: Erich Schmidt, pp. 101-109.
Brooks, Cleanth and Warren, Robert Perm (eds.) (1959). Understanding Fiction. 2nd ed. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts .
Bryce, Viscount. (1915). Introduction. The Book of History: A History of All Nations From the Earliest Times to the Present. The Grolier Society.
Busse, Heribert. (1991). "Jerusalem in the Story of Muhammad's Night Journey and Ascension." Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam. Vol. 14, pp. 1-40.
Busse, Heribert. (1996). The Destruction of the Temple and its Reconstruction in the Light Of Muslim Exegesis of Sûra 17:2-8. Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam. Vol.20, pp.1.
Cervo, Nathan. (Spring 1992). "Jackson's The Lottery." Explicator. Vol.50, No.39, pp.183-185.
Coulthard, A. R. (Spring 1990). Jackson's The Lottery. Explicator. Vol.48, No.3, pp.222-224.
Coulson, N. J. (1964) A History of Islamic Law. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.
Crone, Patricia. (2004). Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam. Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias.
Elliott, Jeri. (1992). Your Door to Arabia. Kenneth Jolly.
Faruki, Kemal A. (1962). Islamic Jurispudence. Karachi: Pakistan Publishing House.
Frazer, Sir James. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. New York: MacMillan, 1922; New York: Bartley Com., 2000.
Friedman, Lenemaja. (1975). Shirley Jackson. Boston: Twayne Publishers.
Griffin, Amy A. (Fall, 1999). "Jackson's The Lottery." Explicator. Vol.58, No.1, pp.44-46.
Grunebaum, G. E. von. (1970). Oassical Islam: A History 600 A.D. - 1258 A.D. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.
Guillaume, A. (1995). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Hagopian, John V. "Insight I." (1971). Analyses of American Literature. Frankfurt: Hirschgraben, pp.128-32.
Hawting, G.R. (1999). The Idea of Idolatry and the Rise of Islam: From Polemic to History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Heilman, Robert B. (ed.) (1950). Modern Short Stories, A Critical Anthology . New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.
Hyman, Stanley Edgar (ed.). (1966). The Magic of Shirley Jackson. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Jackson, Shirley. (1995). "The Lottery." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Eds. Kennedy, X. J. and Gioia, Dana. New York: HarperCollins, pp.248-254.
Kennedy, X. J. and Gioia, Dana (eds.). (1995). Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. New York: HarperCollins.
Khan, M. Mustafa. (1989). Islamic Law of Inheritance. New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan.
Khan, Muhsin and Hilali, Taqi-ud-Din. Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Quran. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Houston, USA: Dar-us-Salam Publications.
Kosenko, Peter. (Spring 1985). "A Reading of Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'." New Orleans Review. Vol 12, No.1, pp.27-32.
Lainoff, Seymour. (1979). "Jackson's 'The Lottery'." Journal of Modern Literature. No. 7, pp.543-44.
Lethem, Jonathan. (January 1997). Monstrous Acts and little Murders. Salon.com essay. Available at: http://www.salon.com/jan97/jackson970106.html [accessed July 2008].
Levy, Reuben. (1975).77*e Social Structure of Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
McQuade, Donald, Atwan, Robert, Martha, Banta, Kaplan, Justin, Minier, David, Stepto, Robert, Tichi, Cecelia, and Vendler, Helen (eds.). (1999). The Harper Single Volume American Literature. 3rd ed. New York: Longman.
Mohamed, Mamdouh N. (1996).Hajj to Umrah: From A to Z. Amana Publications.
Nebeker, Helen E. (1974). 'The Lottery': Symbolic Tour de Force. American Literature. Vol. 46, No.1, pp. 100-109.
Oehlshlaeger, Fritz. (1988). The Stoning of Mistress Hutchinson: Meaning of Context in 'The Lottery'. Essays in Literature. No.2, pp.259.
Oppenheimer, Judy. (1988). Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jachon. New York: Putnam.
Peterson, Andrew. (1996). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. London: Routledge.
Reagan, Bette. The Haunted World of Shirley Jachon. A website created by Donna Dedman, available at: http://www.tornadohills.com/shirley/bio.html. the article originally from: http ://www.kutztown. edu/faculty/reagan/j ackson.html.
Shafaat, Ahmad. Punishment for Adultery in Islam: A Detailed Examination. Islamic Perspectives, available at: http://v^vw.islamicperspectives.com/StoningIntro.htm. Feb. 2003 [accessed July 2008].
Shariati, Ali. (2005). HAJJ: Reflection on Its Rituals. Delhi: Islamic Publications International.
Siddiqi, M. I. (1994a). Family Laws in Islam. Delhi: International Islamic Publishers.
Siddiqi, M. I. (1 994b). The Penal Law of Islam. Delhi: International Islamic Publishers.
Time-Life Books. (1988). Time Frame AD 600-800: The March of Islam. Grand Central Publisher.
Trubshaw, Bob. (May 1993). The Black Stone - the Omphalos of the Goddess. Mercian Mysteries. No.15.
Wansgrough, John. (1977). Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Spiritual Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Ward, Kyla. (1995). "Shirley Jackson: House and Guardians." Tabula Rasa. No. 7. Available at: http://www.tabula-rasa.info/DarkAges/ShirleyJackson.html.
Wensinck, A. J. (1995). "Ka'ba." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol.5, pp.317. Eds. CE. Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs and G Lecomti. Leiden: EJ. Brill, IX.
Wilson, Colin. (1996). Atlas of Holy Places and Sacred Sites: DK. London: Dorling Kindersley.
Wolf, Eric. (1951). The Social Organization of Mecca and the Origins of Islam. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, pp.329-356.
Yarmove, Jay A. (Summer 1994). Jackson's The Lottery. Explicator. Vol. 52, No. 4, pp.242-225.
Nayef Ali Al-Joulan1
1 Dept. of English, Al Al-Bayt University, Jordan. E-mail: Nayef-Ali@rocketmail.com. Tel.: 00962 2 6297000.
* Received 2 May 2010; accepted 2 June 2010…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Islam in Shirley Jackson's the Lottery/L'ISLAM DANS LA LOTERIE DE SHIRLEY JACKSON. Contributors: Al-Joulan, Nayef Ali - Author. Journal title: Cross - Cultural Communication. Volume: 6. Issue: 2 Publication date: June 3, 2010. Page number: 29+. © Canadian Research & Development Center of Sciences and Cultures Mar 31, 2010. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.