The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
From the beginning of time, people have had many different superstitions, or beliefs on ones life. People believe that if you were to preform certain acts they would be granted with good luck, with the same rules applying for bad luck. Some superstitions had gone on for such a long period of time that the they became imbedded within the religion or culture as a tradition or ritual. For some who conform to old ancient rituals and traditions will break their character and commit vicious actions against others in order to protect a tradition. In Shirley Jacksons, short story “The Lottery”, she try’s to point out that kind of evidence. During “The Lottery” she captures a small town where the villagers that live there have been taught to believe in the lottery in order for their crop to be abundant for that year, meaning some individuals will pay the ultimate price and be sacrificed. Faithfulness to tradition without reason or knowledge can result in dangerous prosecution and prejudice. This idea is shown through the ideas of the danger of blindly following tradition, randomness of persecution, family, and the black box.
The first theme found within the short story, “The Lottery” is the danger of blindly following tradition. The village lottery culminates in a violent murder each year, a bizarre ritual that shows how dangerous tradition can be when people follow it blindly without remorse or reasoning. Before we know what type of lottery is being conducted, the villagers and their preparations seem harmless, they’ve appointed a sad old man to lead the lottery, and children run about gathering stones in the town square. Everyone is preoccupied with a worn out old black box, and the lottery consists of little more than handmade slips of paper. Tradition is a priority to the small town, and is used as a way to grow links with families and prior generations. Jackson, pokes holes in the relevance of some tradition. She states that the villagers don’t know much about the lottery’s origin but are taught to preserve the tradition nevertheless no matter their understanding or thoughts. The villages keep the tradition although cruel and inhuman, and remain powerless to the idea of change although there is no one forcing them to keep things the same besides Old Man Warners faithfulness towards the lottery. Old Man Warner is so faithful to the tradition that he fears the villagers will return to their prehistoric times if the lottery were to end. The ordinary people, who have just come home will easily kill someone when they are told to regardless of their prior relationship whether it be your mother or father. With no reason at all for doing so other than the fact that they’ve always held the lottery. If the villagers stopped to question the concept of the lottery, they would be forced to ask themselves why they are committing a murder. But no one stops to question it. For the villagers, the fact that this is tradition is more than enough and gives them all the justification they need. The tradition has become so imbedded within them that the lottery has become a second nature and there has never been a reason to reconsider.