Tradition Is The Guide Of The Ignorant In The Lottery

1267 words - 5 pages

Tradition is the Guide of the Ignorant in The Lottery

In "The Lottery" author Shirley Jackson takes us to a place in which a tradition is passed down generation after generation. However, over the years, the "lottery" has lost any significant meaning and the villagers follow tradition without even knowing why the tradition exists. In this short story, a lottery is held every June 26th of each year. The lottery consists of every man of each household to pick a piece of paper out of a box. One family will be the "chosen" family, which means that each member of the family will then choose another piece of paper from the box. In the end, only one person will be the ultimate "winner." They will be the one who is stoned to death, and the townspeople will be the one's to perform this ritual, even though no one is sure why they actually do this each and every year. This blind following of the past traditions leads the reader to discover a universal truth, "Tradition is the guide of the ignorant."
Ignorance means lacking knowledge or being unaware, and the ignorance of the townspeople is demonstrated throughout the entire story. When told by Mr. Adams, "that over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery" (236), Old Man Warner states, "'There's always been a lottery" (236). In this statement, the reader sees the most ignorant of all excuses for doing anything. This, however, seems normal for the community. Whenever a person is questioned about why they do something unusual, their usual answer is something along the lines of "Because I do it all the time." This shows ignorance on their part because they cannot even back up what they do with a valid reason, as with the townspeople in this story. Another way in which the
Townspeople display their ignorance is described earlier in the story, where the reader discovers that '"Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations'"(234). While reading, the reader starts to understand the lottery tradition from which many rules and regulations disappeared for convenience reasons. This leads the reader to believe that the villagers do not truly understand the origins of the lottery. The townspeople do not ever question why the lottery takes place and they all just stand there and go through with it year after year. The "lottery" has become so commonplace that it almost seems as though it's a natural part of their lives. Mrs. Jackson states '" The people had done the lottery so many times that they only half listened to the directions'"(235). In this passage, the reader learns through the nonchalant ness of the villager's actions that an important event does not attract much attention. They don't even need to listen to the directions because all the townspeople already know what they have to do.
Another showing of ignorance is...

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