Analysis of "The Lottery"

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"The Lottery", by Shirley Jackson, can be seen in many different ways. There are many themes portrayed in this short story. Two of which are: the reluctance of people to reject outdated traditions and following the crowd can have disastrous consequences.

The first theme that was illustrated was the reluctance of people to reject outdated traditions. The villagers throughout this story believed that since they had always had the lottery, that they should not change tradition now. One of the villagers even said, "We have always had a lottery as far back as I can remember. I see no reason to end it." If most people have had something a certain way for a long period of time, they are most likely going to be resistant to change it. For example, female circumcision, the partial or total cutting away of the external female genitalia, has been practiced in parts of Africa for centuries. This is generally one element of a rite of passage preparing young girls for womanhood and marriage, but is often preformed without anesthesia and with practitioners with little or no experience in human anatomy. Female Circumcision can cause death or permanent health problems as well as severe pain. Despite these risks, practitioners look at it as an integral part of their culture and ethnic identity, and some perceive it as a religious obligation.

The second theme is that following the crowd can have disastrous consequences. Although some town people raise questions about the lottery, they all go along with it in the end. They then become part of what some people would think of as a herd. They surrender their individuality and as a group, send Mrs. Hutchinson to her death. This also applies to real life. Some people think that being unique is a bad thing. They think that everybody has to look the same, and if someone does not follow the crowd, they are "weird". As a result, they forfeit their personality, becoming part of a group, and forget who they really are.

The reluctance...
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