Tradition in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

Tradition in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

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Easily regarded as one of America’s most beloved short stories, “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, leaves readers with excitement and perhaps a small sense of doubt. Doubt could be an aspect of the reader’s mind due to the gory fact of the cultural tradition in the small farming town of the story. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” displays the theme of unwavering ritualistic tradition and the use of symbolism throughout the story. This means the village is unable to move past their tradition while symbolism is shown through character’s names such as Old Man Warner and Tessie and through various objects in the story like the stool and the black box.
However, another reason tradition stays could be the possibility of superstition. The idea of having unwritten laws stick around for so long can relate to the fact that many people in today’s culture are superstitious. Society might believe that if a tradition is done away with, perhaps bad luck or even evil will come upon them. Of course, this is a just speculation, but, it is also a very real idea of why traditions have yet to change year after year. Tradition often twists ones mindset to a point where reality is viewed from a grotesque and skewed perspective. For instance, in “The Lottery,” the townspeople go about conducting their farmland’s lottery as if it was the most normal thing to do. They are so attached to a tradition created centuries ago they are unable to detach themselves from it. The fact that the small town is literally killing someone every year to “feed their crops” is a harsh and unrealistic idea and worldview that they are holding. Since there are less than one thousand residents in this town, one would think the administration of the village would r...


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...Lottery” adhered to a tradition passed down from many ancestors. Jackson displays theme in the concept of tradition while giving bursts of symbolism through characters such as Old Man Warner, and objects such as the three-legged stool.


Works Cited

DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Print.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Introduction to Literature. 1st ed. Boston: Pearson, 2011. 68-78. Print.
Kwiat, Joseph J., and Mary C. Turpie. Studies in American Culture; Dominant Ideas and Images. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1960. Print.
Nebeker, Helen E. "'The Lottery': Symbolic Tour De Force." American Literature. 1st ed. Vol. 46. Durham: Duke UP, 1974. 100-07. Print.
Paludi, Michele A. The Psychology of Teen Violence and Victimization. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011. Print.

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