The Unalterable Human Condition Exposed in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery
The short story, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, managed to capture various human tendencies stemming from the very heart of the unalterable human condition. The willingness to follow tradition blindly, the inherent cruelty of humans, and the unwillingness to change were the primary negative behaviors depicted in the story.
The unalterable human condition is one of the truths of human existence. Throughout the course of history, humans tend to act in the same ways, repeat the same mistakes, and end up little better than they were a century before. Although technology has changed, increasing the quality of life, behavior patterns have not changed, decreasing both the sanctity and quality of life. One may begin to wonder if the human race will ever change its behavior in any more ways than rhetoric. The short story, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, managed to capture various human tendencies stemming from the very heart of the unalterable human condition. The willingness to follow tradition blindly, the inherent cruelty of humans, and the unwillingness to change were the primary negative behaviors depicted in the story.
People enter into society with certain traditions having long since been established. People are terrified of changing those traditions because of the fact that those traditions have been in existence for decades, even centuries. If they have survived that long, people consciously or unconsciously reason, they must be correct. However, that is not necessarily the case. In The Lottery, the tradition must have been at least a century old, as the black box used to choose the lucky winner "had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born" (Jackson 181). Because of the unique nature of the long-standing tradition represented by the old box, "no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box" (Jackson 181). The people of the town were so unbendable when it came to their humble tradition that they did not even bother to question the reasoning behind the tradition. All they needed--perhaps all they wanted--was the comforting assurance that it had been around for a long time and would continue to be as long as they lived. People are far less willing to break traditions that have established themselves than traditions that have just begun. It is as if longevity is placed upon a golden pedestal, unable to be touched by the hands of human beings. It is a mandatory fact of human existence that the status quo must be questioned, for the majority of eminent men in centuries past have said or done things which no one will now justify. The villagers should have questioned the beliefs of their town in order to rectify the wrongs of years past.
Yet, questioning beliefs may have taken the villagers away from the inherent cruelty that humans tend to have. The fact that "Mrs. Delacroix selected a...