"The Lottery" and Religion

Topics: Religion, Ritual, Shirley Jackson Pages: 2 (771 words) Published: November 6, 2006
"The Lottery and Religion

Organized religion and traditions have been a common idea throughout every civilization since the beginning of thought. All of these religions have had some sort of doctrine of faith or standardized set of codes and practices that have been passed down through the ages. In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," The author presents the idea that without questioning the practices of our rituals, we lose the meaning of why they were conceived in the first place.

The first clue that religion and doctrine may be the main subject of the moral of the story Is the use of the last name of Delacroix. The literal translation is French for "of the cross" but the townspeople mispronounce it frequently which signifies that the meaning of the name is lost. This could be the first symbol of how we today misunderstand established icons and rites. Another symbol is the black box. Nobody seems to know why, but the black box has been used in the lottery since before anyone alive can still remember. It is also significant that no one even thinks that the lottery can take place without the ceremonial black box even though realistically, any container large enough to hold the strips of paper would have done the job just as well.

Other details in the story indicate the willingness to change the doctrine according to practical needs. The chips of wood that originally decided the winner of the lottery were changed to paper in order to accommodate for the growing population. Religion has had a reputation of changing the doctrine to for political reasons, practicality, and relevance to the modern world for ages. Catholic monks have gone from praying five to seven times a day to having service only twice a week in some circles. This is because the services took all day and it was not a convenient lifestyle for the parishioners. Another example of this in Jackson's work is the chant that Mr. Summers performs before the lottery. The chant had originally been...
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