Essay on The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

Essay on The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

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Having read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" (1948) several times now; the biggest thing I've learned is that just because something is tradition, that doesn't make it right. In our lives it's easy to get in the habit of doing things because that's how our parent's or grandparent's did it. It is important to make sure we are in God's word, examining our actions to make sure that they line up with what God wants of us.
The Lottery is a story filled with rituals and traditions. The problem with traditions is we will often continue in them without even knowing why we do them to begin with. In the case of the villagers, the lottery had been going on for longer than any of them had been alive. Jackson illustrates in the story that it started so long ago that the equipment first use had long since been lost (Pg. 258 para. 5). The people of the village are very set in their ways; when the topic of change comes up they are very quick to dismiss it as foolishness. This mindset shows up multiple times throughout the story. Towards the beginning of the story, the black box used for the lottery is mentioned and it is indicated that "Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box" (pg 258-259 para. 5). The villagers for the most part didn't question the moral implications of the lottery; being born and raised into the lottery it's all they ever knew. They had little knowledge of any other way things could be to serve as their moral compass. The story reminds me of a similar situation from my childhood. As a child I used to spend a lot of time around my grandfather Jay. He was born and raised in Arkansas in the 1920's. Being...


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...en to man, we know that the actions of these individuals does not line up with God's word. Ritual killings like the one portrayed in "The Lottery" do happen in some parts of our world, but there are everyday rituals that we do that also do not line up with the Bible. The important lesson we must all take away from this story is to examine what we do closely, see how our actions contrast to how God tells us to live. We cannot allow ourselves to blindly follow tradition. God has given us a guidebook on how to live our lives when he gave us the Bible. It is important to be well versed in it so we can recognize when the actions of our lives don't line up in contrast to God's word.




Works Cited

Jackson, S. (1948). The Lottery. In X. J. Kennedy, D. Kennedy & M. Muth (Eds.), The Bedford guide for college writers (6th ed., p. 257). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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