Symbolism And Tradition In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

Amazing Essays
In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, the black box is a symbol of the town’s adherence to a strong yet poorly understood tradition. Jackson shows the strong attachment to the tradition when describing the current condition of the box. The current box is hardly a remnant of the original and yet, the townspeople refuse to make a new one, even though it is needed. Furthermore, Jackson uses the imagery of the black box to explain how the tradition has lost its potency over time. Finally the author shows the poor understanding of the tradition when the villagers use the character Tessie as a scapegoat to commend their local tradition. Throughout the short story it becomes apparent of the town’s misunderstanding of a tradition, symbolized by the …show more content…
The point of the author adding this is to show irony given the village’s currently partaking in primitive acts with the stoning of a villager for a plentiful harvest. Old man Warner only mentions the purpose of the lottery once claiming it is for a plentiful harvest. Jackson does this to show that the harvest may have been the original reason for the use of the lottery, but it has since faded over time similar to the box. Similar concepts are voiced in “DIAMOND RINGS Capitalizing on Social Trends,” describing how diamond rings did not always represent a symbol of love but rather,“filled the hole left by the defunct breach of promise actions, which had provided women with financial security at a time when many people still viewed marriage as more of a career path than a romantic relationship” (Kohles 29). This demonstrates how the tradition differs from what most Americans today believe is the reason for the diamond ring. This is similar to the villagers in “The Lottery” with a flimsy understanding to the origins and most of the reasons behind the …show more content…
Tessie Hutchinson is the unlucky candidate in the story and through the death of her character, the primitive nature of the selfish and confused humans is revealed. Although the celebration of the lottery is to promote a plentiful harvest the following season, the killing of an innocent person is an egregious event and the town fails to see that. Without the mention of any law enforcement to stop such an act in the story, it can be reasoned that the lottery is a purge of all of the town’s aggression in one act to make the need of law enforcement obsolete. With the death of Tessie Hutchinson, not only is the nature of the villagers revealed, but also it is shown that she is not a very strong willed character, claiming multiple times “it wasn’t fair,” (Jackson 5) when chosen. Once sentenced to death Tessie immediately changes past views supporting the lottery and refusing to follow the town’s tradition. The author writes about this to not only mention the changed opinion of the targeted, but also show that the clarity of mind towards the lottery does not come unless targeted by the lottery. This leaves the town in an eternal practice of the lottery due to the provincial minds of those not yet chosen. Similar scapegoat situations are seen in contemporary works regarding the usefulness of the Calvary. As

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    In the short story, “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson uses imagery and symbolism to show that evil can be present in the most innocent environment, resulting in society being tainted with dark illusion. Superstitious tradition symbolized an important role to the people in this village. Mr. Summers a man that was in charge of the majority of the events in the town, always spoke about making a new black box but never did. (134) The people of the village would rather keep the same box rather than upsetting tradition with something new. As the people in the village were waiting for The Lottery to start they started talking how the people in the North village were talking about giving up The Lottery and Old Man Warner shows how loyal he is to this tradition by calling them a pack of crazy fools.…

    • 720 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The box illustrates the tradition of the lottery and the unreasonable loyalty to it. It appears to be shabby and broken down, indicating that the tradition is nearly broken. Despite its tattered condition, no one is willing to replace it further demonstrating the town’s loyalty to the lasting tradition. The town even has the kids collect rocks to get them accustomed to the ritual so that they can carry on the tradition. Further, the instance the Hutchinson family discovers their fate, Tessie is the first to complain that the process was unfair because she thinks that her husband was not given enough time to draw the slip of paper he wanted.…

    • 844 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    And a quote from a character named Hannah Arendt called the lottery “the banality of evil” because the end result shows a brutal way to get rid of someone because towards the end of the story, a section of it points out that “although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stone” which proves that this is a worst type of way to play a “ game” and would get a “prize” but in reality the prize is getting stoned to death to reduce the population in a village instead of asking nicely to just simply leave the village not just creating some game to get rid of huge amounts of people by throwing stones…

    • 707 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In contrast to Antigone, Creon has no control over his fate despite his mistake leading to all the events that occur in the play. When he realizes that he is the one at wrong, he tries to turn things around and save Antigone (1108-9). However, it is too late because she has killed herself. Antigone’s suicide represents her control of her fate but also Creon’s. Creon tries to amend for his wrong but is prevented by Antigone’s death and thereby cannot avoid his punishment for his wrongs.…

    • 1145 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Murder is something so gruesome it seems now days, but try imagining a group of people or even a small city targeting an innocent woman to not only murder her but stone her to death. That is pretty much the gist of this story. The elusive idea of the story is revealed once the first stone hits Tessie Hutchinson in the head, and then it is made crystal clear that the annual "Lottery" is not such a good thing after all. Although Shirley Jackson 's "The Lottery" is attacking small town America, I believe that this short story is much more complex than that because it also argues the reason for tradition. One of the many ideas of this story is one of random tradition.…

    • 701 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Seeing as this is such a weird and cruel practice, there must be some reason for the villagers doing it. And I claim that the lottery is an ancient ancestral tradition that the villagers don’t want to upset. There are several pieces of evidence in the text to support my claim. For example, the text states that “The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the…

    • 453 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Although there are places where the tradition of holding the lottery has been forgotten, it continues in this village, because it was always there and people are faithful to it. Moreover, villagers are afraid to rectify the situation with the annual murder, for they are afraid of becoming a victim of the lottery. As a result, they do not express their true feelings and opinion, since it can be treated as an action against society. Furthermore, the black box appears in the story as a second main symbol. “Mr.…

    • 862 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    His pronouncements about why the lottery can't end don't ever provoke comment from the other community members. Tradition works in this story as a force beyond reason. The village doesn't need to hear why they must keep holding the lottery; it's enough that they know they have to – and really, secretly, they kind of like it” (Shirley Jackson). Old Man Warner is disgusted after learning that other villages are thinking of giving up the lottery. Old Man Warner thinks it would be a huge mistake for his village to give…

    • 1306 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The external conflict occurs when the Hutchinson wins the lottery: “Suddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers, “You didn’t give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair’” (Jackson 260)! Tessie Hutchinson protest against the norms, The lottery which is usually symbolizes as wining of a price, but in this case, winner loses his/her life which is a superstition of the community. This is the example of madness to scarify a person for better crop which some people is questioning it; However, the Old Man Warner thinks that the tradition should be continue and disapprove of those: “Packs of Crazy fools” (Jackson 258), who wants to give up the…

    • 1055 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The villagers’ blind acceptance of the lottery has allowed ritual murder to become part of their town fabric, but the town people shows the unwillingness to change their traditions. In this town, people were easily killed by someone when they are told to. They don’t have a reason for murdering someone other than the fact that they’ve always held a lottery to kill someone. If the villagers stopped to question it, they would be forced to ask themselves why they are committing a murder—but no one stops to question. In the story “The Lottery”, the town people don’t willing to change their tradition compare to the story “A Rose for Emily.” The society wants to keep their tradition even though it’s dangerous.…

    • 539 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays

Related Topics