What can I learn from this story, "The Lottery"?what I can learn in this story the lottery

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Shirley Jackson's story "The Lottery" chiefly deals with the dangers of following tradition for tradition's sake.  The townspeople have continued the tradition of the lottery for years, bloodthirstily killing one of their own because of a meaningless drawing.  The villager's conversations, especially the one between the Mr. Adams and Old Man Warner are particularly revealing:

"Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while. Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' First thingyou know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There's always been a lottery."

Old Man Warner's strongest defense for the barbaric system is "there's always been a lottery."  He cannot imagine village life possibly continuing without one; in his eyes, the absence of the lottery would result in anachy and a reversal of civilization.  Jackson's short story examines why people feel motivated to continue on in the name of tradition, especially when those traditions may seem outdated.  She uses the extremely exaggerated, violent case of the stoning as a hyperbole intended to shock the reader into wondering why the townspeople would ever permit such an ugly thing to take place.  "The Lottery" is a harsh lesson about the dangers of tradition and complacency.


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