The Lottery

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The Symbols of the Character Old Man Warner
in Shirly Jackson's "The Lottery"

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," Old Man Warner symbolizes how cynical and unnecessary many timeless rituals are. After seventy-seven consecutive years of attending the town's lottery, he displayed a very harsh and rigid view on it. He represents how traditions can sometimes control and corrupt a man's mind and way of life. Even the way he spoke to his fellow citizens reflected a cold way of life.

"Pack of crazy fools. Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while" (Jackson). This was Mr. Warner's first appearance in the story as a response to some villages eliminating the lottery from their annual routine. His statement shows us that rituals and traditions are sometimes more important than ethics or the wellbeing of humans. Also his unwillingness for change exemplifies how ignorant people can become to new ideas if they are not allowed to think on their own as young people. A reason why to have the lottery never comes out of Mr. Warner's mouth. His only response to people not having it is to say it has always been around and rituals like the lottery should always be followed. He never asked questions or pondered whether it was moral or not, he just accepted it because his ancestors did it. "The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born" (Jackson).

As the story progresses, we find out that Mr. Warner is a very boastful man proud of how long he has been a part of this timeless event saying "seventy-seventh time I've been in the lottery" as he made his way to the box to draw (Jackson). This was an act to make himself seem more important or special than everyone else. His arrogance once again...
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