“Stop!” the German soldier called. The young boy stood stunned in his tracks. He couldn't breathe, couldn't see clearly, couldn't move for fear of being shot. The German too, was young and confused. His leaders had told him to do away with anyone that wasn't Aryan. His finger trembled uncertainly on the trigger. There was no other option, and yet there was no reason to hurt the petrified boy who paled before him. The boy, doomed to death from a variable he could not control, gazed into the German's eyes, and saw the same confusion and helplessness echoed there. The boy attempted to voice his fears, his desire to run unscathed. The soldier's eyes widened at the Jew's gaping mouth and made a hasty decision, frightened of the repercussions that would follow disobedience. A mere two seconds later, the boy lay on the floor with eyes that were wide open but could not see, just another of the six million Jews that were murdered irrationally during the Holocaust. Similarly, Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" (1948) depicts the proceedings of a ritual, called the lottery, in a tiny village of a mere three hundred people who were unable to object to their barbaric customs. The “winner” of the lottery is stoned to death by the rest of the village. Jackson used the brutal events portrayed in the story as a satire of human nature to commit violence without reason. In "The Lottery," the primitive behavior of the villagers satirizes the consequences that arise when societies blindly follow the traditions that they inherited without question. However, Jackson also depicts the troubles that sprout from challenging ancient traditions, creating a paradox.
The fact that the lottery is passed on, regardless of its violent nature, ref...
... middle of paper ...
... calling attention to the actual problems affecting the modern world. However, Jackson’s story offers very little insight about a solution. By revealing the consequences of challenging traditions, Jackson creates a contradictory statement that states it is wrong not to question the customs one follows, but when one does object, society often disallows it. Nonetheless, Jackson's story, as outrageous as is may seem, exposes legitimate issues in human society. Today’s issues seem far from the stoning associated with the undeveloped morals of a younger age. But a closer look reveals the holes of the present day world; that humans are not, indeed, more than a stretch further from drawing the next lottery ticket.
Jackson, Shelley. “The Lottery.” 1948. Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Ed. [Harold Ross]. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1990. 738-745.
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