The Lottery

Topics: The Lottery, Short story, Shirley Jackson Pages: 3 (889 words) Published: June 19, 2013
Allison Lee Green
Professor Marissa McNamara
English 1102
14 February 2013
Mindless Tradition
“The Lottery” (1948) by Shirley Jackson has provoked controversy and condemnation since its release. The short story takes place in a village where tradition is vital. The lottery is an annual event in which one individual is chosen by random to be viciously stoned by family and friends. All town members practice the ritual. The short story portrays how human nature engages in behaviors mindlessly.

“The lottery was conducted—as were the square dances, the teen-age club, the Halloween program…” (p. 243). Jackson’s tone is ironic because the dictation among the villagers is friendly. Additionally, the manifestation of the lottery is similar to celebratory events such as square dances and Halloween. This illustrates the lottery as an accepted, festive event. It is expected that the lottery winner is going to receive a prize or something of that manner. However, it is implied that the winner’s fate is very grim. Prior to the lottery, Jackson describes the social atmosphere, “Soon the women… began to call their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times” (p. 243). This is foreshadowing of the dark future that is to come.

This seemingly jovial town performs a horrendous event for many years, not a single individual protesting, or any questions asked. It seems as though the main purpose is to carry on the ritual. However, the townspeople show signs of anxiety concerning the ritual. Small comments such as “Don’t be nervous, Jack” indicate that the people are not completely comfortable with the tradition (p. 247). Furthermore, not one expresses fear or repugnance concerning the lottery, only signs of eagerness and zeal. Alternatively, they sacrifice their morals and personal principles, becoming mindless. This suggests that individuals are not strong enough to confront their disapproval or the fear of being rejected by society....
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