In her story “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson attacks social conformity and cultural mindlessness. Even though stoning someone to death is incredibly inhumane, the townsfolk still carry on tradition in fear of what might happen if the lottery was abolished. Also, the one person who rises against the lottery, Mrs. Hutchinson, ends up being the one who gets the “honor” of winning the lottery, which indirectly shows that those who cry out against conformity get punished, proving that maybe conformity is the only chance people have at survival and safety.
In the story, the townspeople all gather every year for the “lottery,” but instead of winning a prize like someone would think, the winner of this lottery gets stoned to death. Early in the story it is made clear that the lottery is an old tradition, so old in fact that even the oldest man in the town wasn’t alive to see the original box that the names were drawn from. This shows that the generations in the story aren’t the only ones who, instead of doing what is right, simply do what has always been done.
Old Man Warner plays an important part in the story. Although he is oldest man in the town, even he didn’t see the origins of the lottery. Also, when people begin to talk about how other towns have considered doing away with the lottery, he snorted, “Pack of crazy fools,” (Jackson 4) showing that the people have gotten so used to the horrific event that talk of anything different seems completely foreign and absurd. Old Man Warner even murmurs on another occasion, “Pack of young fools” (Jackson 4) when it was mentioned that some places have actually gotten rid of the lottery, showing that the thought of no lottery doesn’t make any sense.
Mob mentality is something that the villagers are overcome by. Instead of doing what they think is morally correct, they join the crowd and their ancestors by following the tradition of murdering one person of the village. They don’t even really know why the tradition is held or what its origins are, but because it has always been done in the past, people don’t argue with it. They mindlessly go on with the tradition with their thoughts altered by the past. If the lottery hadn’t been done in the past and the idea of it was introduced to the villagers, they would have been appalled at even the thought of killing someone for a reason such as a chance at a good harvest season. Since it had however, the villagers let themselves be persuaded by their elders. In their minds they justify the lottery by passing it off as “tradition,” and it makes the lottery seem morally correct and makes them all happy. For example, Mrs. Delacoix is nice and friendly with Mrs. Hutchinson in the...