The world was a confusing place in 1970. I was 13 in my final year at The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and it seemed everything familiar was slipping out from under me. The social fabric was tattered and torn by the conflict in Vietnam. Crazy hippies protested the war. Rational people argued "My country right or wrong." I wasn't sure what was right any more.
Then my English teacher assigned "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson for reading.
I was knocked over. I still remember the feeling I had as the story unfolded and the reader learns the fate awaiting the winner of lottery: The winner, man, woman or child, was destined to be stoned to death by everyone else in town. In the story, the lottery ticket holder cries out, "It isn't right!"
The idea that a short story -- rather than protests, political debates or newspaper editorials -- could reveal the importance of questioning authority still moves me.