Conformity and Tradition as Related to Davy in The Lottery

Conformity and Tradition as Related to Davy in The Lottery

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Conformity and Tradition as Related to Davy in The Lottery

Since the beginning of time, man has conformed to society’s rules and regulations to keep from having the label of “rebel” tattooed to his forehead and sometimes for stability, order, and safety. Although man can think for himself, his actions usually reflect what society has deemed acceptable. Tradition and conformity are essential parts of “fitting in” with a society when a person has different beliefs or opinions. As we see in “The Lottery,” children, like Davy, are taught what they are supposed to do, rather than why they are doing it, and what the consequences are. The adults in Jackson’s story are the result of these lessons.
Many people have a respect for tradition and condemn anyone who dares to go against it, or disregard it. Society gets into a ritual of what should be done just because it has always been done, rather than whether it is humane. In “The Lottery,” the villagers participate because it is a tradition in their town. Although they do not really know the origin or the meaning behind what they are doing, they do it because they are taught to, and do not want to go against their community. Traditions give a feeling of safety, which is why people belong to a community. The villagers are the picture of community and tradition as they choose the name of the person who will be stoned to death. “The Lottery” is an example of how long-time tradition affects rational reasoning. The villagers participate because “There’s always been a lottery…”
However, conformity is the basic theme of “The Lottery.” Although the villagers do not approve of the lottery, they go along with it so they will not be outcast by their peers. They speak badly about the other villagers that have stopped having lotteries, even though in the back of their minds they want their town to stop as well. In response to the talk of the village in the north not having a lottery, Old Man Warner says, “Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work anymore, live that way for a while…” As if his village is anymore civilized than a pack of rabid wolves. That is a perfect example of how the villagers would rather conform to what they think the majority approves of than what they know to be right.

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Little Davy is included in Jackson’s story to show that children learn what they are supposed to do before they understand why they do it or the consequences of it. They end up practicing what they are taught without realizing it is wrong. As we see in the story, Davy is handed some small pebbles by the villagers to stone his mother to death. In reality, if he could choose for himself, the power of the villagers’ suggestions would be null. If the children in that village are given half a chance to learn the difference between right and wrong, perhaps the tradition would be overruled and forgotten. However, tradition and rituals are so strong in a community, they are unlikely to be easily changed.
Finally, “The Lottery” shows how primitive people can be when it comes to them and the way people see them. Although sometimes it is not intentional, evil doesn’t always announce itself, especially in traditions and rituals. In this story, an entire village operates in evil without noticing it. They end up murdering their friends and family all for the sake of tradition and conformity. Evil, inhumanity, and injustice are so commonplace in human society that they disappear into the framework of our daily lives.
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