September 16, 2011
“The Lottery” Traditions
The main theme of “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, is tradition. Traditions are beliefs, legends, customs, information and other things that are passed down from generation to generation. This theme is shown in many different ways throughout the story. The first way tradition is shown in the story is with the ritual that the town people call the lottery. The second way tradition is shown is by the character Mrs. Hutchinson. Another character that helps show tradition is Old Man Warner. The last and most important symbol of tradition is shown with the black box.
The first example of tradition shown in the story is the actual lottery ritual. The lottery takes place every year on June 27th. In the ritual the people from the town gather around and the person running the lottery makes sure all the families are present. Then one man per house hold stand and pick a paper from the black box. After everyone has a piece of paper they look at the paper to figure out which family has the dot and must choose again. They do the whole process over only this time the person with the dot on their paper gets stoned to death. This ritual is done under the impression that because they do this they will have good crops, “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (Jackson 98).
The second example of tradition in the story is Mrs. Hutchinson. Her role in the story is very traditional. You can tell this by the conversation she has with Mr. Summers. When she says “Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now, would you. Joe?” it shows how tradition her really role is (Jackson 97). You can tell she plays a very traditional role in the town because she is doing house work. You can also tell it’s very traditional because she is referred to as “Missus, Hutchinson” throughout, until she show up late to the lottery (Jackson 97). Once Mrs. Hutchinson shows up to the lottery late she is referred to as Tessie. By being referred to as
Cited: Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Let Us Go Then, You and I: Materials and Suggestions for Critical Thinking and Writing about Literature. Ed. Michael Pogach. Bethlehem: Northampton Community College. 2011. 95-100. Print.