Sense of Community versus Animal Instinct in Jackson’s “The Lottery”
“The Lottery” is a short story that illustrates how society uses a sense of morality to justify its most base animal instinct, survival. In this story Jackson uses a small, seemingly civil community to show that, when portrayed as an ideal representative of the greater good, a crime like murder can be justified and even encouraged. Additionally, this story asks us to question how societal morals come into being and are accepted as part of a daily existence and are passed on through generations.
“The Lottery” takes place in a nondescript small farming community. Jackson utilizes the averageness of this small community as a representation of common people. The people of this town are a basic salt-of-the-earth type, people that most average Americas can identify with. Ultimately that is what is unsettling about the story. Most of us would think of the murderous mob as the protagonist, the danger. However, in this story we are left questioning the character of Tessie Hutchinson, who is chosen by lottery to be sacrificed, for her inability to quietly, and with dignity, accept her death sentence. Tessie becomes the bane of the story when she, for the first time ever in her own life, questions the legitimacy of the system.
In “The Lottery” harvest symbols are used to draw a picture of a farming community. Jackson tells us that “the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green” (1). She also tells us that the men were “speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes” (1). The character of Mr. Warner shares with us the old saying “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (4). This shows how the villagers believe that their lottery drawing truly is nothing more than human sacrifice; a villager every year for a prosperous crop. Also, Mr. Warner tells us that without a lottery, a community would “all be eating stewed...