The Lottery

Topics: Religion, Short story, Ritual Pages: 2 (604 words) Published: October 20, 2009
The Use of Religion in “The Lottery”
Religion at times, is unconsciously referenced, or used in everyday life. This is portrayed in the short story “The Lottery”, written by Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” is a story about a small village that maintains a ritualistic way of life to encourage the prosperous crop production. This ritual is performed every year in the same time, place and manner from years past. Shirley Jackson uses the biblical allusion “He who is without sin may cast the first stone” to demonstrate the religious undertone, and what we, as a society will do in the name of religion. A ritual by definition is the prescribed procedure for conducting religious ceremonies (worldnetweb). By this definition, any activity that falls under the ritual category has a religious purpose. No matter what religion is followed, any activity that is performed on a routinely basis is considered a ritual. Without the religious undertone of “The Lottery”, there would be no purpose for the lottery. As with many religions, people follow blindly because that is what is expected. “The Lottery” represents our willingness to do without question all that we have been told to do without any remorse (Tibbett). No one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box (Jackson 351) is a prime example of a society just doing as they always have. We all know as a society that taking the life of another is considered a sin, but this ritual undermines such beliefs. This ritual shows how far a community will go to follow a well-imbedded ritual, even though it causes the death of one of their own. As with any religion, followers choose to accept beliefs as true and just. Shirley Jackson uses the ritualistic behavior of this society to demonstrate the importance of maintaining rituals throughout time for the good of the village, even though the ritual is cruel and no longer needed. All rituals’ have an origin, but some of the meaning behind them...

Cited: Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Literature, the Human Experience. Shorter 9th ed. Richard
Abcarian and Marvin Klotz, Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 350-356. Print
Tibbett, Amelia. “Literary analysis: The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson” n.d. Web. 18 September
Worldnetweb. n.d. Web 18 September 2009
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