Tradition In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

Improved Essays
Though tattered and splintered, old and worn, the black box remains. Year after year the same old black box, with some possible minimal repairs if needed, is used in the lottery. No one wants to upset tradition by altering it in any major way or make a new one. It is not exactly the original black box but it contains pieces that were part of the original, small pieces that survived its storage and use throughout time. The villagers have no absolute knowledge of how the lottery began, yet they follow it nonetheless, caught up in a web of violence. Every year the lottery takes place on a summer’s day in June, and no one knows exactly why but they cannot defy that tradition, perhaps out of fear, or maybe because that’s the only thing …show more content…
They follow the old ways they were taught by generations before them even if makes no sense to them. In the very beginning of the story we are introduced to a group of boys who are collecting rocks and placing them into a large pile. Their parents, the villagers all seem to be nervous and anxiously awaiting the lottery. They talk amongst themselves, making small talk, but the underlying mood in the town is apprehensive. The black box is brought to the village square by the postmaster, Mr. Graves, and is placed on a three-legged stool. It contains the names of all the families living there. It contains their future, the outcome of the lottery will affect everyone’s …show more content…
Family and friends turn against one another and stone the winner to death. Though the winner, Tessie Hutchinson pleaded with her friends and family not to kill her, they do anyway, stones are thrown at her, and in the end they walk away. The whole story is horrifying and barbaric. At some point in the history of mankind death by stoning may have been used as a ritual to appease the harvest gods so that the harvest would be plentiful. Old Man Warner reminds the people, “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon”. Perhaps back then, it was the normal way to do things, to have human sacrifices, however I cannot imagine such a world. The people in “The Lottery” know better, they live in a modern world with cars and modern conveniences and they know that stoning someone to death is wrong. No one stands up and tries to stop the lottery from happening, only the “winner” Tessie protests and you have to wonder if she didn’t win, would she just have been a willing participant. The lottery, the black box and all the rituals involved are illogical, and the ending of the story is very disturbing, it shows a disregard for human life. Jackson shows how humanity hasn’t progressed and leaves us with the feeling it’s all going to happen again the following

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Even when Tessie Hutchinson was yelling it isn't fair repeatedly the villagers just moved closer, preparing to throw their stones. (138) Mr. Summers even says “Lets finish quickly” so they can finish throughout their day. (138) After stoning Tessie Hutchinson the villagers continued out their day as of if they didn't all just kill someone. Even though this village looks like a normal little village The Lottery makes it an evil…

    • 720 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    As for the black box itself, it represents a symbolism of a nostalgia that shows that this event is an annual tradition. No one knows who created the event or how, but it shows that they are living in a village where everyone seems to be contempt about the lottery. However, the children,…

    • 861 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    They both have a reason: the Nazi’s being that they believe they are exterminating an inferior race, and the village people in “The Lottery” being that they think that the sacrifice will bring them a good crop yield. Old Man Warner preaches to the village, “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (Jackson). This idea of a heavy corn is how the townspeople justify the gruesome stoning of the innocent town member that “wins” the lottery and is selected to be the year’s sacrifice. The winner of the lottery, after she is chosen, chooses to stand up and claim the unfairness of the lottery. Jay Yarmove says about her new decision to stand up for what is right, “Her protests of the unfairness of the process--a thought that only now has occurred to her, since there is every likelihood of her becoming the chosen victim” (Yarmove) The lottery puts village members, friends, families and even spouses against each other.…

    • 1466 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    “Another theme of concerns the blind following of tradition and the negative consequences of such an action. The people of the village continue to take part in the lottery even though they cannot remember certain aspects of the ritual,” ("Themes and Construction: 'The Lottery '.") An example of this is that they have forgotten the chant and salute, but still continue to participate in the lottery each year. "There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here." ("Themes and Construction: 'The Lottery '.")…

    • 1066 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    “Lottery in June corn heavy soon (The Lottery)” Old man warner is so faithful to the tradition of the lottery that he is afraid that the villagers will return to Stone Age if they stop holding the lottery. “Next thing you, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work anymore, live that way for a while (The Lottery)”. Because of this the villagers are blinded by this tradition of how evil and absurd it really…

    • 974 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    With a population of just over 300, if you decide to voice your opinion and no one else agrees bad things can come your way. “Pack of crazy fools, listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody works anymore, live hat way for awhile. Used to be saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” Even if people believed that, the lottery is a bad thing, they also believe good things follow. This story is being taken place a short period after WWII, where people 's incomes and livelihoods depended on farming and livestock.…

    • 1143 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The Lottery Tradition

    • 1651 Words
    • 7 Pages

    The townspeople believe that doing away with the lottery could possibly bring bad weather which destroys the crops. A possible reason why the town never really gets rid of the lottery is due to the idea of “good fortune superstition” which also comes from blindly following tradition. Anyone could have altered the reason behind the lottery as it was passed down, for their was never really any written record. It quite possibly could have started as a sacrifice for the crops or it could have also started as a means to scare the townspeople from the Gods. No one really knows it originality or any of its modifications.…

    • 1651 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Great Essays

    The reason stoning was part of this society is presumably due to populism. The reason populism works is because the villagers believe that the struggle to get crops will be eradicated when someone gets stoned to death. A quote that portrays this message is ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' This means that the working class people believe that when someone is stoned to death in June, their agricultural/horticultural struggles would not exist. The reader is not told of any scientific or just reasoning as to how this tradition will improve the society’s economy and thus, the reader would consider whether or not this is just a tradition, which is uplifted by mob psychology, in a progressive society.…

    • 2069 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The lottery represents how ridiculous it is to follow a yearly ritual that has been passed down from generation to generation without question simply because it is a tradition. The lottery itself is clearly preposterous and inhumane, but no one thinks to challenge it due to the simple fact that it is a tradition. The lottery can also be a representation of how life is so fragile and death can come any day at any moment. Tessie shows up late and has a few laughs with other villagers, never expecting it to be herself with the dotted paper. Incidences where people are diagnosed with incurable diseases and randomly struck by cars are common, but one believes it’ll happen to them.…

    • 698 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The author uses the theme of tradition to illustrate that making decisions based on blind obedience to history is not a valid reason to guide one’s actions. The symbolism of the shabby, black box shows the reader how ridiculous it is to unquestioningly follow the people around you. Jackson’s character development draws the reader into her story and makes the reader care what happens to them. “The Lottery” is a confusing short story that leaves the reader with an unsettled feeling and the desire to never again follow a tradition…

    • 918 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays