I need help comparing the tradition in "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker to the tradition in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.

2 Answers | Add Yours

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Both "traditions" are done almost absent-mindedly.  Maggie churns the butter and sews the quilts as easily as she breathes--it is part of her as much as her arm or leg.  It represents a set of skills that have been passed down from generation to generation as a means of survival and part of daily living.

Likewise, the lottery is almost forgotten until the time of year comes to perform it.  The box is a shambles and although meant to be replaced, it is always placed on the shelf until the next year--shabbier and shabbier.  It is performed also as a rite of survival, a fertility rite for a good and bountiful harvest.

Both traditions are very much an integral part of the lives of the participants.  For Maggie and Momma, it defines their lives; for the inhabitants of the town in "The Lottery," it  colors their lives once a year although the aftermath lasts longer.  In both stories, the actions are second nature--not likely to be given up without much of a fight.  Maggie refuses to forego her grandmother's quilts just because Dee is suddenly interested in them.  The elderly members of the community in "The Lottery" are adamant about keeping the lottery since they believe in its successful outcome for the harvest.  Moreso, they do the lottery just because it is what they have always done.  Those who refute or challenge it are quickly silenced, as illustrated by Mrs. Hutchinson's death.


We’ve answered 317,919 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question