“Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.” (142)
Rituals have been a part of human society since the first families huddled together. The intention of repeating the activity is to remind the group of members that something is important and vital to the fabric of their lives. This one sentence really exemplifies how society fails to learn and understand why they repeat a pattern of behavior. In the story, one generation after another neglected to take care of the “paraphernalia” (138), of the lottery and as the years passed “the ritual had been allowed to lapse.”(138) It also appears that over time the reasoning behind the annual gathering of the villagers was never passed down as well. The author Shirley Jackson goes to great length to tell us about the lottery as it is in modern times, and also which parts the people vaguely remember from the past. She describes in detail the black box which is so instrumental to the story, and how it becomes “shabbier each year.”(138) The box makes a poignant symbol of the senseless and cruel assaults that take place in our society every day. The stones represent the most troubling part of the human mind. It shows us that when it comes down to the business end of hurting another person, there is no forgetting the mechanics of how to do it. Our anger roils within us unchecked, and then we lash out, often without a pause for thought. Understanding the part of why we act this way seems as allusive as the dissipating steam released from a boiling tea kettle. It’s essential for our individual well being to understand why we conduct ourselves the way we do. Behaviors that are harmful to us and to those in our communities need to be examined and understood; so that new models of conduct can be adopted that can help us and others live better lives. Mr. Summers was correct “about making a new box…” (138). We need to contain our darkest emotions within a...
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