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Essay about Tradition is the Guide of the Ignorant in The Lottery

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Tradition is the Guide of the Ignorant in The Lottery

In "The Lottery" author Shirley Jackson takes us to a place in which a tradition is passed down generation after generation. However, over the years, the "lottery" has lost any significant meaning and the villagers follow tradition without even knowing why the tradition exists. In this short story, a lottery is held every June 26th of each year. The lottery consists of every man of each household to pick a piece of paper out of a box. One family will be the "chosen" family, which means that each member of the family will then choose another piece of paper from the box. In the end, only one person will be the ultimate "winner." They will be the one who is stoned to death, and the townspeople will be the one's to perform this ritual, even though no one is sure why they actually do this each and every year. This blind following of the past traditions leads the reader to discover a universal truth, "Tradition is the guide of the ignorant."
Ignorance means lacking knowledge or being unaware, and the ignorance of the townspeople is demonstrated throughout the entire story. When told by Mr. Adams, "that over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery" (236), Old Man Warner states, "'There's always been a lottery" (236). In this statement, the reader sees the most ignorant of all excuses for doing anything. This, however, seems normal for the community. Whenever a person is questioned about why they do something unusual, their usual answer is something along the lines of "Because I do it all the time." This shows ignorance on their part because they cannot even back up what they do with a valid reason, as with the townspeople in this story. Anot...


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... states this when she says, "Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones" (238). Even though the villagers forgot what the whole lottery was about, they still only remembered that they had to stone someone to death in the end.
Shirley Jackson persuasively presents the story of a town of villagers that lets ignorance run their lives. The major lesson weaving throughout the story teaches the reader that, "Tradition is the guide of the ignorant." This is shown by the mere fact that the villagers of the community are so ignorant that they can't stand up to what they think is wrong in their life. They are so used to it by now that they don't think twice about doing it. This is where the ignorance leads them. This major fault is their guide and their ignorance ultimately runs their lives.


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