What does mob mentality have to do with The Lottery?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Mob mentality refers to the fact that people will act in unison with the behaviors of the others around them because they identify with the group in one way or another.

In regards to Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery, mob mentality certainly affects the behaviors of the community members.

That being said, one first needs to understand that not all mob behavior has negative connotations. For example, look at the current fad brought about by flash mobs. Flash mobs function under mob mentality. The members of the "mob" are unified by the behavior being acted upon. While, historically, mob mentality has had negative connotations, it can be seen as a positive thing as well.

As for the mob mentality in the story, the community is coming together under the traditions of their culture. The community has lived by the rules of the lottery and agree to take part in the lottery simply by showing up.

The mob mentality is compounded by the way that the tradition of the lottery continues. This is seen by the boys who collect rock piles and guard them against the attacks of other boys. The boys are taking part in the mentality of the elders of the community. Simplistically, this is a learned behavior and is not impulsive (as seen in more violent mob behavior).


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