In the short story, “The Lottery,” the author Shirley Jackson describes an ancient ritual practiced by the town of roughly 300 people, one of whom will get stoned to death. The initial descriptive scenes from the short story are filled with innocence and happiness, but as the story progresses the scenes soon becomes shady and horrid. The unmistakable themes in the short story, “The Lottery” is the danger of blindly following tradition, the randomness of persecution, turning on other family members, and sexism.
Jackson’s story initially describes the villagers gathering around together in the square on June 27. It was a bright and sunny day, and children run around gathering stones. As the ...view middle of the document...
Others try to poke holes at the tradition of the lottery, but those who do are powerless to change anything. Traditions are passed down from generation to generation, and people are willing to do anything to preserve their tradition.
Speaking of blindly following tradition, the villagers following this uncanny ritual do not know much about the origin of the lottery, but still want to preserve the tradition. Following tradition blindly is just one of the superstitious natures of a human being. The crowd follows tradition blindly, and people who question “Why” are still following the ritual because through following tradition blindly people are able to fulfill their own deep and horrifying need for violence (Griffin). This leads to the following conclusion that people who blindly following tradition or a set of instructions have a powerful motive to commit heinous crimes. The Lottery is conducted by Mr. Summers, someone who holds a vast amount of power in the village. No one question his leadership or why he is the head of the lottery. Ultimately, he is the one that marks the slip that goes into the black box, and indirectly condemns someone to death (Jackson 263).
In addition, the randomness of persecution is noticeable when the victim found guilty is held at no crime other than his or her misfortune of picking the wrong slip. The lottery is similar to the 21st century lottery in that everyone has the same chance of getting picked. Tessie the victim, in the short story, “The Lottery” is a popular housewife known by several village members, but the minute she chooses the marked slip she becomes the person marked with death. “Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal-company office”. ‘“It isn’t fair,’” she said. “A stone hit her on the side of the head” (Jackson 268). It is particularly chilling to look at how quickly the victim loses her identity in society when she picks the wrong slip. Tessie is innocent, yet because of a peculiar tradition she must be stoned to death. The villagers follow a ritual blindly, Tessie’s innocence is overlooked by the crowd, and Tessie suffers an inexplicable death (Belcher). The fact that the lottery is tradition is enough reason for the villagers to kill innocent people.
The randomness of persecution can be traced back to present day prejudices. In modern day society, people get discriminated based on their age, sex, ethnicity, and skin color. In the lottery, the person who picks the marked slip loses all identity in society, and gets discriminated from all others. In modern day society, people who are discriminated receive unfair treatment or even death in extreme scenarios. In the lottery, the person who picks the marked slip gets marked with death (Persecution in the Lottery).
Moreover, family members turning on each other is most evident when Tessie...