The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

I was watching an episode of “The Simpsons” on TV the other day, and there was a craze around town because the Springfield Lottery was up to 130 million dollars. Bookstores were selling out of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. Homer quickly threw the book into the fireplace when he realized that the book could not tell him how to win the lottery, that it was a book about time old traditions, barbaric, but still practiced nonetheless. If Homer had read the book, he would have discovered that Jackson was projecting a subtle message through the minor character of Old Man Warner that the human race can be quite feeble-minded when it comes to following others and outright ignorant when it comes to thinking for one’s self. She uses Old Man Warner because he clings to your memory above all the other minor characters. He is seen as the antagonist, and therefore commands attention, even to his limited role. You then think about him more than any other minor character, and the more you think about him, the more the message comes through. He symbolizes the sense of invincibility, distrust, fear, and eternal youth.
Being in his seventy-seventh lottery, Old Man Warner is separated from the rest of the town. He has beaten the Lottery seventy-seven times, and therefore holds a certain sense of invincibility, and that leads to his devotion to it. Maybe that’s how everyone feels. Since they’ve survived the Lottery, they have a respect for it, and see nothing wrong with keeping it. In fact, they find the notion of not having the lottery preposterous, just because everyone has always thought that, and they just go along with what everyone thinks. Maybe it’s not so much the aspect of survival that is a...


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...ottery” as a minor character, as to where he isn’t given much thought, when he actually plays an important metaphorical role. And the best part of her writing of this character is that there is no definite direction Old Man Warner is going, and that leaves a lot to interpretation. So she doesn’t want to tell us how to read this character. She wants our minds to be stimulated by the enigma of Old Man Warner, and for each individual reader to take away something different from the reading. Jackson just wants everyone to put their mind to some good, and challenge the direction of the rest of the world, or follow it if that is what your brain says. Whatever you do, just be able to think about something and reason it out without any outside interference. An example is how much I’ve written and thought about a crochety old man, with a tiny part in a twisted story.

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