Free «The Lottery» Essay Sample

According to the story by Shirley Jackson-‘The Lottery,” the villagers uphold the tradition of their lottery since they believe it gives them their identity as members of their groups. This is seen in the devotion different members of the society have for the day they sacrifice one of them. The story is based on a misguided belief among the villagers that they will get good crops the following year if they sacrifice one of their members to a Rain God (Tibbett 1). Everybody had it in mind and had set apart time (10.00 o’clock) to attend the event. None of the villagers wished anything about the outdated box, which is symbolic of the lottery tradition, changed. “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box” (Jackson)

Adults teach the children to adhere to the lottery tradition. The children are seen to be familiar with the event since on that day, they all came out and had started on the usual events like collecting of stones and piling them ready for the ritual to take place. Towards the climax of the ritual, it is stated that “The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready.” Another clear indication that none of the villagers wanted to be left out of the ritual is that even the young were partakers in the lottery. After Tessie Hutchinson picks the damning ticket, it is stated, “The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson few pebbles” (Jackson). The children were ready to stone whoever got the ticket and even the sibling of the unfortunate girl is given a stone to hit her. Children in the village have been socialized to the beliefs that victimize Tessie (Kesenko 1). Mrs. Hutchinson, who almost missed out of the ceremony this time, comes to the scene running and is eager to join the rest of the community in the ritual. 

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Tradition is a theme in the story. Although the Villagers are seen to be in modern life as distinguished by the presence of schools, banks, post office (where the venue was), ‘The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock;’ and even big businesses like the coal firm held by Mr. Summer, they didn’t think of leaving their tradition behind.

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They believed the ritual would be perfect when the old black box was used since they had defied the request of Mr. Summer to make a new box. They believed in the originality of the box and its spirits as seen from the phrase, ‘The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born…. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here” (Jackson). The people are very reluctant to let go of their traditional lottery in spite of the evil nature of killing the person with the designate ticket.

Tradition was accorded a lot of respect since it’s seen that after the picking of the victim of sacrifice; almost everyone participates in killing them. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. "Come on," she said. "Hurry up." It would seem that women would not participate in the killing. The villagers couldn’t forget the finishing of the ritual, they had learned another way of conducting the final part as depicted in the phrase, ‘Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready” (Jackson). The lottery tradition is really deep-seated in the society.

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