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Tradition In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

1634 words - 7 pages

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is a story about a small town’s tradition. Every summer the
town’s people gather in the square for a ritualistic drawing of names, however, the winner of the
drawing will lose their life. No one in the village questions the sadistic ceremony, everyone
simply complies. Jackson suggest that the tradition is as old as the town and thus many portions
of the ceremony have long been forgotten yet the villagers are faithful to the portions that have
been remembered without question. Jackson cleverly demonstrates how dangerous tradition can
be when blindly followed. There are many reasons why people follow others, however, it can
have devastating results (McMahan, Day, Funk & Coleman 133-138).
People were joking and making light conversation while children were choosing the
weapons to be used, one person almost forgot what day it was. This showed that the villagers had
not only accepted the ritual but they have welcomed it with open arms. The villagers continue to
practice this tradition even though they don’t seem to know why. They simply knew that there
had “always been a lottery” (McMahan, Day, Funk & Coleman, 136) The villagers feel that the
lottery must be held and therefore no one argues with the tradition or the leaders of the village
but instead they feel compelled to continue with this tradition and if they have concerns they do
not voice them but simply conform and comply and so each year another life is lost (McMahan,
Day, Funk & Coleman, 133 - 138)
Jackson wrote The Lottery in 1948, which was not long after World War II had ended.
Before Hitler came along Germany was in trouble but he convinced his followers that he could
make a better life for them if they were loyal. He taught his followers to believe that German’s
were "superior” and others were “inferior”. Once he had them under his spell, he began to
brainwash them into believing that the Jews were bad for the country. Because of their devotion,
Hitler was able to gain power and became a God like leader. It then became very easy for him to
convince his follower to slaughter millions and millions of Jews, including women and children.
He had millions of supporters and helpers and many others simply complied and stood by and
allowed this to happen with the hopes of a better country but instead innocent lives were lost
(Griffin).
Like Hitler’s followers the characters in the Lottery, followed Mr. Summer and Mr.
Graves because they had been conductors of the lottery for many years and the people of the
village followed their leadership because they believed that if they did not follow the tradition
something bad might happen to them. Old man Warner even said that it would be foolish to stop
the lottery and hints that the crops will be a successful once it is done. The people were
convinced that the lottery was good for their community and so they became loyal to the
tradition and if anyone did disagree with the custom they didn’t come forward but instead they...

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