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Tradition And Dehumanization In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

773 words - 4 pages

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a short story about a small town’s annual lottery drawing. Each year, the lottery is held, and instead of the winner being rewarded, members of the community stone them to death. The residents of the town have practiced this tradition for at least 70 years. Jackson’s use of symbols, names, and settings hide the true nature of this long-practiced tradition.

The setting of the story is in quiet small town in rural America. The way Jackson describes the town offers little foreshadowing to the dark tradition that the residents blindly follow. The author paints a picture of an idealistic community where “flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was ...view middle of the document...

The dilapidated black box represents both the tradition of the lottery as well as the fear of being chosen. It represents darkness and death.
“Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.” (Jackson, 7).
This quote pretty sums up the purpose of the lottery to its core: murder. Although the town’s residents speak of tradition, history, and ritual; the lottery’s true purpose has been lost. The traditional aspects have long been forgotten and the only thing left is the box. Now the black box only holds the key between life and death for the residents of the community. The villagers learn from childhood that the ritual stoning ceremony is just a part of life.
“Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, an the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones (Jackson, 2) shows that young kids were picking up smooth stones. The children are specifically picking up stones that are smooth in order to slow down the stoning death. This shows that the children consider the ceremony a game and are thus desensitized. This is evident in the stoning of Tessie Hutchinson. Once she has chosen the marked piece of paper,...

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