Monday, May 13, 2013

Short Story Review: "The Lottery Ticket" by Ventura Garcia Calderon

Being an English major, I come across plenty of short stories that range from "A Rose For Emily" by William Faulkner to "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane to "The Rocking Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence. After reading 75 Short Masterpieces last year, I realized that there was a hidden gem that is not featured in enough collections. In addition, there is not a lot of recognition for this short story. This short story is "The Lottery Ticket" by Ventura Garcia Calderon, a Paris born author who moved to Peru to expand on a career in writing and politics. In this review, I will be providing a thorough review filled with the complete details, so if you do not wish to be spoiled, this review is not for you. Moving right along...

"The Lottery Ticket" could fall under the category of a "short-short," because it's only two and a half pages, but what it does in two and a half pages is so captivating and insightful, that it is bound to provide an "a-ha" kind of enlightenment. As the story begins, Garcia Calderon informs us that this a story that has a moral, which for one moment may cause you to think of Aesop's fables and their morals, but this moral is more political and relevant to the events of the time and place.

In the story, Cielito is a gorgeous dancer touring in South America, attracting the men with her rumba and other attractive dances. One evening, the theater decides to hold a lottery. They throw some numbers in a hat and the person whose number is pulled out will be able to take Cielito home with them. In this day and age, we would likely smell a rat called prostitution or sexism. In that time and place, however, this was perfectly reasonable to auction off a beautiful woman. When they pull the number out of the hat, 213, the number belongs to a bitter negro that has been discriminated throughout his life. His slave relatives were worked to death and he finds this whole notion to be ridiculous. After standing there, caring less about what's going on, he takes his ticket and rips it to shreds, smugly, and in a way that says, "take that!" First, the audience stands in surprise, then Cielito grows angry, finally, he is beaten down by the angry Latin Americans  before being hospitalized. Garcia Calderon does not name the theater, providing an interesting open ending.

"The Lottery Ticket" does an excellent job captivating the material appreciation that people, primarily men in this time and place, have and how this is the way they look at Cielito, nothing more than sexual appeal. At the same time, they do not treat everyone equally and that could be said about the way they treat the negro, we happens to figuratively use his prize winning opportunity to shove their belligerence in their faces. Not only does he see the ridicule in holding an auction in order to auction off a female dancer, but he also sees them in the wrong for how he and his relatives were treated for several years. Garcia Calderon obviously leaves the name of the theater out of his writing and clearly states he will not name the theater, because there would be plenty of options to choose from and plenty of theaters to point the finger out. He just doesn't feel like pointing the finger at one particular theater, because this, their pleasures, and their approaches in life are far in the wrong.

"The Lottery Ticket" is an easy read that will surely catch the attention of the literary enthusiast and cultural enthusiast alike, especially if Latin American culture is a strong suit. Garcia Calderon captures the culture and the issues around him and sets up an opportunity where one man treated unfairly can get vengeance for such treatment. I had to let out a chuckle as I finished reading this piece. Now if only a few more literature anthologies would get a hold of this piece to include in their lineup...

2 comments:

  1. Josh,
    you've posted really an amazing, informative, useful and an awesome article which is going to be really helpful to understand every single thing about the lottery tickets. Especially it was the most inspiring part of your article. "The Lottery Ticket" is an easy read that will surely catch the attention of the literary enthusiast and cultural enthusiast alike, especially if Latin American culture is a strong suit. Garcia Calderon captures the culture and the issues around him and sets up an opportunity where one man treated unfairly can get vengeance for such treatment.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm very happy that you enjoyed my post and encourage you to check this story out.

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