The Lottery

Published: 2021-06-29 07:01:11
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Category: English

Type of paper: Essay

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In the story "The Lottery" Shirley Jackson challenges us to see the dangers of blindly obeying tradition by showing us how a village can justify murder. She supports this idea through the quaint attitude of the characters in their preparation of the lottery, their ignorance of their traditions origins, and their unwillingness to break from conformity.
Jackson shows us through the way the village harmlessly prepares for the lottery how easily it is to follow tradition without stopping to question the morality. Before the lottery even begins, the children's role of gathering stones is approached "quietly for a while, before they broke into boisterous play" (137). Jackson uses the children's blissfulness, despite their knowing they are gathering weapons for murder, to show how ethics have gotten lost in the conformity to tradition. Instead of showing concern for the gruesome murder soon to come, the town spoke of "rain, tractors, and taxes" and "exchanged bits of gossip" (137). This lack of concern with the wrongness of the lottery is how Jackson encourages us to question our reasons for justification.
Jackson not only expresses how the town overlooks their wrongfulness, but she also highlights the villagers don't even have deep rooted reasons to. The tradition of the lottery is native to the village and is believed "Lottery is June, corn be heavy soon" (140). Although the villagers see the lottery as an unquestionable ritual, Jackson exposes the respect the villagers claim to have for their tradition. Jackson reveals how the village doesn't know much about the lottery's roots yet they still preserve it. When referring to past lotteries events the villagers spoke of it as "a recital of some sort" and they knew little about it other than "years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse" (138). Jackson uses this example of the villagers ignorance of their origins to highlight how they are carelessly obeying a tradition they are not even sure about.
The towns strong refusal to give up tradition, even when no one is forcing them to stay the same, is how Jackson shows us that before we know it, we begin to conform and obey they group rather than stopping to question. The town is so faithful to the tradition of the lottery that they are stunned to hear the north village is talking about giving it up, and claims they are "a pack of crazy fools...there's always been a lottery" (140). Their judgment placed on other villages is their way of avoiding turning the critical eye to themselves. Instead, the fact the lottery is tradition is reason enough to easily kill an innocent member of society when they are told to. Tradition is all the justification they need, and their unwillingness to give it up is how Jackson encourages us to look at the dangers of instinctively obeying tradition without considering

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