An Analysis of The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

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In "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson, there are a series of traditions the story revolves around. The characters in the story don't seem to follow their traditions anymore. The story begins by explaining how the lottery works. The lottery takes place in many other towns. In this town it takes place on June 27 of every year. Everyone within town would gather at the town square, no matter what age. The black box is brought out and each head of the household pulls a small paper out of it. Only one of the papers will not be blank, it will have a black-penciled spot that is put on by the owner of the coal company. The black spot will send someone, from the family who chose it, to death. This is decided by a draw. The family member who pulls out the spotted paper will be stoned to death. After a long period of time, people forget the traditions by slowly disregarding as the years pass.

The first traditional the author explains is the chips of wood, brought up by Mr. Summer in an argument. As the population changed they began to use paper instead of wood. The paper is easier to work with and handle then wood chips. This shows that the growth of a community can change their perspectives on how the tradition is. No one is bothered by this change. With extra time having to put in the wood chips, the change to paper doesn't seem to affect anyone at all.

Next tradition that is changed is the recital. The recital was,."..performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory, tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year..." This was tossed aside years ago, with possibly the idea that it would save time. They hoped to be done by noon, was the goal. The older people within the town are more leaning towards tradition. Perhaps with the taught that they had to go through it their whole life, everyone should, maybe bringing a feeling of being fair. The recital was not a major part of the tradition, but one that just added to the time they would have to have the lottery.

The third traditional change was in the town's ritual salute. The lottery official used to salute to address each person as they came up front and drew from the black box. This ritual salute changed with the times.

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The townspeople decided it would be easier to have someone speak, as people would approach the black box. The people appear to be more ignorant to the idea of the lottery at this part in the story. A woman in the story noted that towns North of them have done away with the lottery. Acting like they, the town, would eventually move on from the lottery also.

In conclusion, the story is about the loss of their traditional past. After a long period of time, people forget the traditions by slowly disregarding as the years pass. Most likely, the town's people will go on to cut corners, more and more, with the lottery, till it is not the lottery anymore. Then realize there's no point to having it. Just shows that ideas such as being stoned to death, which is not humane, will slowly fix itself as time goes on. To better attempt the idea of life, our world changes everyday from it's past.


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