"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, and the movie "The Village" directed by M. Night Shyamalan, deal with the same theme; the danger related with following traditions and rituals blindly. In both cases, the townspeople are deceived into believing the established systems and values, the elders are not questionned and many ploys are used to keep the followers in line. In "The lottery," the people are forced to follow the custom of holding the lottery each year that necessitates the felony of stoning an innocent person to death. As the reader's prospective, it seems utterly inhuman, but the people in the village do not perceive what they are performing. They are completely deprive of perception because the practice of stoning a human being for winning the lottery is viewed as accustomed.
There are a few members of the town who seem to want nothing to do with the lottery; one of those being Janey, whose husband is unable to participate due to a broken leg (Jackson 373). Once the event is over, though, one can come to the conclusion that she has recently lost a son to the lottery. As Nebeker notes, Mr. Summer’s asked if she had a grown son to draw for her, even though everyone knew that she didn’t, which could imply that she did at one time have a son who would have been able to draw for her, but he was last year’s victim (4); Nebeker notes that this also explains the “unusual encouragement” Janey receives (4). This theory could lead one to believe that Mr. Dunbar’s broken leg may have been an intentional way of avoiding the
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a story that represents a village that lacks the courage to rid themselves of a tradition that harms people within their community annually. A black box is used to draw paper that will inform which family will be stoned that year. The black box symbolizes a deadly black hole that the villagers are occupying because they are scared of change and follow a tradition that other towns already discarded. Overall, The Lottery is a reflection of a quote by Thoreau, which expresses the views that many people act robotic. Communities tend to act mechanical by being powerless against government, and not having their own views or thoughts that can help them change and develop as individuals.
There proves to be a pattern of tendency to be trapped by tradition. By further description of the author, the items involved in the ritual and the villagers’ specific reactions to changing them further downplay the conventional nature of the lottery. Even though the “original paraphernalia for the lottery has been lost long ago” (Jackson 134), the townspeople still use the worn down, old black box for drawing out the slips of paper. The box is older than the oldest man in town, Old Man Warner, but no one dares to discuss the replacement of the black box. Conjuring up a brand new box is discouraged as “no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box” (Jackson 134).
“Some places have already quit lotteries,” Mrs. Addams said. Nothing but trouble in that,” Old Man Warner said stoutly. “Pack of young fools.”(Jackson 139) Old Man Warner is lecturing Mrs. Adams that not having the Lotter is foolish and people are fools if they believe in breaking tradition. In this quote, Jackson is using a typical conversation and making it bizarre and inhumane. Talking about stoning an innocent person just because of a drawing out of a black box is being foolish is preposterous.
And while some couples do not share a love of the islands initially, I have also seen cases of the dissenting member of the marriage gradually becoming an enthusiastic member of the community as time passes. Summer and the 1000 Islands are so given to romance that it is no wonder it holds special memories in the hearts of many. A sad reality is that summers end and then most of us young and old alike return to college or distant communities to resume the more responsible aspects of everyday life. A few tears at the moment of departing for another winter is quite common. Each year a bit more of our life is consumed, and one never knows if there will be another year in the magical 1000 Islands to come.
In a society which should be advanced enough to reject the concept of a sacrifice to pagan gods in hopes of a favorable harvest, this Vermont village chooses to engage in this practice. "Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon '" (Jackson 3). Old Man Warner scoffs at the idea of discarding the lottery, saying that doing so would be a return to uncivilized times: "Next thing you know, they 'll be wanting to go back to living in caves" (Jackson 3). This is another ironic statement, for the lottery tradition is clearly outdated and makes no sense; advances in science and technology—even pure rationality, it seems—can confirm that performing the lottery will not affect the harvest in any way. Again, Jackson emphasizes the necessity of discarding the tradition of the lottery, being incongruous with the modern age.
Every word that leaves Old Man Warner?s Mouth reeks of tradition. He never stops criticizing new ideas about the lottery, the way it is run, or complaining about how things have changed for the worst, etc., etc. When Mr. Adams tells him that the residents of a neighboring village are considering doing away with the lottery, he says they are ?a pack of crazy fools.? After the Hutchinson family draws for the second time and he can hear people whisper about who they hope drew the spot, he is quick to point out ?It?s not the way it used to be, people aren?t the way they used to be.? He probably reminds most readers of an older person he or she once knew always saying, ?Well in my day we did things differently?..?
Shirley Jackson wants us to float along with her upbeat story and be completely appalled in the end at the total loss of human decency. Although Tessie was not said to be religious, her name might have been tied to a religious liberal named Anne Huchinson. "Anne was banished f... ... middle of paper ... ...ars, which has conditioned him to believe that they are doing the right thing. As discussed in class, the theme to this story can be expressed within a quote, "Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones"(Jackson 79). The tradition and its function had been forgotten yet these people still killed one of their friends every summer.
With time, the original meaning of the tradition had faded just as the box had. Even though the meaning had faded, when Mr. Adams hinted at stopping the lottery by saying, "over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery," Old Man Warner called them a "pack of crazy fools" (77). He also said, "They're listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them," and "There's always been a lottery" (77). Soon afterward Mrs. Adams said, "Some places have already quit lotteries" (77). Old man Warner replied, "Nothing but trouble in that," and "Pack of young fools" (77).