Short Story Analysis - the Lottery

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Carlie Johnston
Gabriel 1
AP English Literature
4 February 2013

In The Lottery a small village gathers annually to conduct a long held tradition. Villagers halt the day’s activities to attend said tradition with their families and neighbors; they muster together in the town square socializing with one another while the children gather rocks seemingly arbitrarily. Before one discovers the true nature of the lottery these actions seem innocuous and perhaps even eccentric. However, once one does conceive the notion behind the lottery it becomes clear that blindly following tradition can be habit-forming, illogical, and lethal.

After the box is presented to the villagers it is said that “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.” This exposes the villager’s extreme level of steadfastness in their tradition. The box is dilapidated and the only force keeping it around is an inexplicit tale of its origin. The villagers care not of the box’s appearance and simply desire for it to remain the same. This suggests that the villagers fear the very essence of change, as if one change may induce another. Already, some towns have stopped holding lotteries, but these villagers do not seem even remotely fond of that notion. Instead, they hold firm to the parts of the tradition that remain, avoiding alteration of even this seemingly insignificant part of it for fear of ultimately their downfall as a community.

As the villagers settle in, child meeting parent, a partial attendance is taken. Mr. Summers asks Mrs. Dunbar whether her son, Horace, will be drawing for the family in Mr. Dunbar’s absence, even though everyone knows Horace is still too young. “Although Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally.” This quotation shows how illogical the...
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