Dangers Of Tradition Essay

944 words - 4 pages

“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay”. This powerful quote by philosophical writer, Jiddu Krishnamurti, cultivates what the powerful truth which lies in the speculative fiction short story, “The Lottery”. Shirley Jackson published “The Lottery” in 1948. The time period plays an essential role in understanding the implication of this story. The 1940s is in the prime of societies fight to break immoral traditions. Shirley Jackson herself found it difficult to get much notoriety for her work in a traditionally male literary elite. Tradition is a powerful element, it can influence society for better and for worse. The power of tradition plays an important ...view middle of the document...

Old Man Warner fears that without this tradition society will hopeless, however this is all Warner holds to be true. Warner says, “Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' First thing you know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There's always been a lottery” (Jackson 254). Warner expresses his fear of a world without the lottery, however Warner’s last line “There's always been a lottery” disqualifies his statement. If there has always been a lottery Warner could not conclude how life would be without it and that is where his fear shines through. In a sense, Old Man Warner as well as the society, feels hopeless without the lottery, and if they stopped to question this tradition on a moral level, they would be forced to face all the innocent lives the have taken.
As well as the fear of breaking tradition, tradition can also deteriorate ones moral sense over time. Old Man Warner is a prime example of this numbing of morality. Warner is the oldest member of the society. Warner says, “’Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery,’ Old Man Warner said as he went through the crowd. ‘Seventy-seventh time’” (Jackson 254). Warner has come to accept this tradition with killing over 77 people, which is why he seems to be least sympathetic to his victims. Even with Warner’s old age he still urges people on for the killing in the end. “Come on, come on, everyone” (Jackson 256) Warner says, as Tessie screams for her life. Jackson shows here that even though Old Man Warner is older, does not mean he has superior moral judgment, in fact his moral judgment has depreciated.
Tradition also manipulates younger generation’s judgment. In the beginning of the story the boys are gathering stones, Jackson writes, “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his...

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