Desensitization Of Murder In The Lottery

1063 words - 4 pages

On the Desensitization of Murder in The Lottery

When someone is a part of or witnesses any one thing enough times, that person will become desensitized to it, whether it is gradually accepting abortion, homosexuality or anything else for that matter. People can even become accustomed to violent murder if it is ingrained into their lives enough. Take the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi Officers that were partly responsible for the death of millions) The Lithuanians showed them how to murder women and children, and they became accustomed to it (Cesarani 165). Shirley Jackson most certainly takes this "desensitization" into account when she writes "The Lottery." The characters in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" are so accustomed to their tradition of systematic, brutal murder, that they no longer feel any remorse for their murderous actions. The villagers carry out the lottery very nonchalantly, belittling human life itself.
The villagers think of the lottery as a chore, rather than a slaughter. The lottery to them is nothing more than another errand, a task that they need to fulfill once a year. They dread the lottery not because one of them will be killed, but because it consumes their valuable time and energy. They seem to forget the importance of the life they take away every year, instead complaining about how long and drawn-out the process or taking away said life is. The director of the lottery even wants it over quickly. ?Well now,? Mr. Summers said soberly, ?guess we better get started, get this over with, so?s we can go back to work?? (Jackson, 239) This statement shows that the people no longer care about the life that will soon be ended, but that they have work to do, and the lottery is in their way of finishing it. Moreover, while the lottery is being carried-out, the people barely pay attention to what?s going on in the proceedings. ?The people had done it so many times that they only half-listened to the directions?? The villager?s passiveness towards the lottery shows, not only that they don?t want to be there, but that the lottery is just another task they need to mark off of their to-do lists. In actuality, the lottery is a tuned-way of choosing someone to die, but the villagers are so desensitized to it, that they fancy the lottery as nothing more than an errand that they must complete.
Secondly, the villagers small-talk, giggle and the children play throughout the story, as if one of their brothers or sisters are not about to be brutally killed. During the entire lottery proceedings, the villagers laugh and the children play despite the seriousness of their situation. The children playing with their murder weapons before the lottery begins really show how little the people care about the lottery anymore:
?Most have become completely desensitized to the murderous rituals. In paragraph two, the children are so desensitized that they are actually enjoying themselves while they are collecting rocks as a sadistic prize for the...

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