The Lottery By Shirley Jackson Essay, Research Paper
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a story centers around traditions no matter how bizarre or ridiculous that are. The story begins a beautiful summer day. The flowers were blooming profusely and the grass was richly green (para1). This description provide positive out look and allow the reader to relax into what seems to be a comfortable setting for the story. Adding to this atmosphere, is the gathering of townspeople at the square, the children assemble first…the broke into boisterous play and the women show up wearing fade house dresses and sweaters. All the folks are coming together for what seems to be enjoyable, festive, even celebratory occasion. Jackson brilliantly assembles these many pleasant details creating a facade within the story. The reader is then left unprepared when the shocking, brutally violent, ritualistic traditions are exposed. Children are an important focus in the lottery . Jackosn makes it easy for us to imagine ther boisterous play (para2). I see these children being used to symbolize perceived states of happiness in the story. I also believe they are vital necessities in the story because they are taught and expected to carry the traditions. For instance, someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles (para76), he will then be able to participate int he stoning of his own mother. Jackson includes references to farming may be due to the associationbetween farming and tradition. I know many people who believe that farming is a way of life that is handed down from generation to generation. The men in the lottery are speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes (para3). The most obvious reason for this reference is that the ritual performed in the story is supposed to have an effect on the harevest. Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon (para 32) used to be a saying heard in the community. The abundance of their harvest supposedly depended upon their performing the ritual of the lottery.
Although it is implied that the abundance of their harvest depends wholly on cruel act of stoning a human being to death, there is evidence that not all in the community agree with the ritual. In the story, many parts of the ritual had been altered or long forgotten by most of the people, this fact in itself, along with a few other clues tell me that not everyone agrees with it. One of the characters says seems like there s no time at all between lotteries anymore (para 22), which leads me to believe that she wishes they weren t performed as oftern, or at all. Based in part on the fore mentioned statements, I have interpreted the theme of The Lottery to be that the actions of the community as a whole seem much greater than the sum of its citizens. I believe that many disagree with the practice of the ritual, I also think that the individual feels helpless in putting a stop to it. Mrs. Adams mentions to Old Man Warner that over in the north village they re talking of giving up the lottery (para31) and that Some places have already quit the lotteries (para 33), and he replies Pack of crazy fools and says There s always been a lottery (para32). Although she doesn t say it in so many words, I find it obvious that she feels that the ritual is outmoded and should be put to an end. This in combination with the fact that many of the townspeople don t even remember the reasons behind the ritual, has led me to the conclustion that they only continue the process for tradition s sake. It just goes to show that humans are creatures of habit and that sometimes we continue to participate in (or tolerate) harmful practices, simply because as individuals we feel powerless and unable to stand up against behaviors that have always been accepted.