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What Is Shirley Jackson, In Her Short Story "The Lottery," Suggesting About Human Societies And Their Traditions?

941 words - 4 pages

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," she presents to us a tragic tradition that's held every year in a village. A lottery is typically thought of as a happy event and we often relate winning a lottery with good fortune and happiness. Yet, in the short story, the winner of the annual lottery will be stoned to death by all villagers and along with his/her family members. Tradition is a generalization of many of the varying forms of sacrifice that exist in modern society ranging from corporal punishment to religious laws to women injustice. In the short story, Shirley Jackson illustrates the reluctance of people to reject outdated and inappropriate traditions.Unlike other appropriate traditions, caning is indeed like torture and is rigidly adhered because it has always been done that way. Caning is considered as a degrading punishment but it remains legal in numerous nations. The British introduced caning to Singapore when it was their colonial empire. Singapore government is ruthless about keeping the city safe and clean. In Southeast Asia, Singapore and Malaysia are the only two countries that practice caning. Convicted criminals are caned in Singapore not only for serious crimes but also non-violent offenses such as vandalism, overstaying one's visa or illegal immigration. They think some people did not get enough discipline at home, and perhaps whipping their behind gives a better message. Maybe one stroke has a place in the modern world, but repeated strokes are just torture. The most well-known case happened in 1993, where Michael Peter Fay pled guilty for vandalizing cars and stealing road signs. He was eventually sentenced to four strokes. The caning can leave permanent scars on the recipient. We would like to see retribution payments that fit the crime. Yet, vandalizing a car does not approach the level that the punishment does. It cheapens human individual and we all have basic human rights. It is tragic that caning continues to be practiced and the criminals' rights are denied in Singapore and Malaysia. In the story, when Mrs. Adams was talking about how some places have already quit lotteries, Old Man Warner simply replied with "Nothing but trouble in that" (184). The community often does not have real knowledge about the ritual, and instead of taking away the barbaric tradition, we just move along with the tradition.Much like caning, the reason for Islamic people cutting a thief's right hand off is inconsequential and the tradition will live on because the religion has a strong influence on people that they regard the event as a regular part of their lives which they neither fear nor anticipate. It is said that getting their right hand chopped off will remind them daily for the rest of their life about their past criminal activities and serve as a...

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