Essay Religion in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Essay Religion in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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Religion in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery, and Christianity Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery”, if left at face value, is a perverse tale of a small village sacrificial ceremony, which leaves a lasting impression upon the reader. However to take the story at face value would nearly be an exercise in futility, for then the reader would be missing the deeper meanings found in the delicate symbolism that Jackson places throughout the tale.
Indeed, the symbolic meanings of many of the people and things placed throughout the narrative depict certain attitudes and beliefs about Christianity and its religious system. Take for instance the Black box that is used in “The Lottery“. It is used as a representation of the Bible, because many Christian people base judgments of others on things that they take from the Bible and the village inhabitants pass judgment on Mrs. Hutchison based on what is literally taken from the box. The box is black, and the Bible in its most common form is black. Black is also a representative color of mystery, and the Bible has been a great mystery to man for ages. Just as the Bible has changed grudgingly throughout the passage of time, retaining pieces of its former self, the black box has been altered as well, rebuilt using remnants of its predecessors. Even though the box has been altered, it is still used in the lottery, just as the bible is used in churches after its many alterations. This showing that even though it is not the same religion as it once was Christians still remain adamant about its infallibility.
The box, being a symbol of the Bible, rests upon a stool with three legs. This “three legged stool” is a representation of God, the legs being the three forms, which God t...

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... its more negative aspects. It shows us that American society has become accustomed to the ideas of Christianity, and is so convinced that it is the right way of thinking, that we do not even explore the idea that it may be wrong, or unnatural. The story shows how Christianity can often times be barbaric, as with the Holy crusades, and the Salem witch trials, to name only a couple. It shows us the hypocrisy that resides within the churches, for often times people are judged for things that only fate decides. Just as in the way that the Christian belief is that all homosexuals will be punished in the after life, while many homosexuals argue that they do not choose to be gay but that fate made them that way. In the end “The Lottery” is a criticism of how many in Western civilization have come to practice traditions and not a religion.


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