Dangers Of Humanity In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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The Lottery, a gothic short story written by Shirley Jackson, illustrates a fantasy about a small and isolated community that takes part in a sacrificial ritual that can only be described as vile and barbaric. Names of all of the citizens are put in a “black box” and eventually, a person is randomly selected to be stoned to death by their own family and fellow citizens. The reason for stoning, or the beliefs of the citizens, is to ensure there is a good crop yield for the year. Shirley Jackson uses the story to expose the subtle brutality in humanity and the dangers in social insecurities that lead to blind faith and following in traditions and cultures. Jackson uses plot and setting to illustrate the subtle brutality in humanity. Characters…show more content…
Old Man Warner, the oldest citizen in this dystopic town is a prime example of people blindly following tradition. Shirley Jackson explains in her short story that he has been a part of seventy seven “Lotteries” (Jackson 256). Warner has become accustom to the “Lottery” and truly believes it is necessary to keep the town civilized. This is dangerous because a lot of things could have changed in seventy-seven years such as changes in society’s perspective or increased knowledge. It is ironic that Old Man Warner is worried about the town being uncivilized if they stop taking part in the “Lottery” even though that is the very thing that is making their town barbaric. Warner says, “Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back living in caves, nobody work anymore… Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns…” (Jackson 256). Warner believes that if they do not take part in the Lottery, the crop yield for that year will be poor. Jackson is showing how out of place this ritual is in the time period and also, how people in the village blindly follow this ritual for such an irrational and poorly thought out reason. In contrast, Tessie Hutchinson is another one of the main characters in The Lottery although her persona is almost a polar opposite to that of Old Man Warner. Although Tessie did not speak out against the lottery she did repeatedly complain about the fairness of the lottery before she was stoned to death shortly after. In a critical analysis of the short story, Don D’Ammassa says “The story is a clear indictment of the pressures of conformity. Not only do the townspeople refuse to question the rightness of the ceremony, they immediately redefine the winner/loser as an outsider, no
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