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What is a good general thesis statement based on human nature in "The Lottery" by...

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mavimalik | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted September 21, 2011 at 8:38 AM via web

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What is a good general thesis statement based on human nature in "The Lottery" by Jackson to address the topic below?

Topic:

Is this just a story about a particular time and place, or is Jackson trying to say something about human nature?

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

Posted September 21, 2011 at 8:51 AM (Answer #1)

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There are multiple ways to examine the idea of human nature in Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery." The some of the main themes which exist in the story are tradition and sacrifice.

When teaching this to my own students, I first examine the ideology of tradition and sacrifice. We, as a society, are very familiar with these concepts. For many, it is in their nature to sacrifice and adhere to traditions.

Therefore, while societies in America no longer take part in stoning for crops, Americans actively partake in traditions and sacrifice for the benefit of their families and communities.

It is our nature to make sacrifices for those we love, those in our community, and those who we determine less fortunate. We partake in traditions which have been passed down by our own ancestors, regardless of its silliness or place in our lives today. We simply do them based upon the tradition and respect.

A good thesis regarding human nature in Jackson's "The Lottery" would examine the traditions society adheres to today regardless of how people outside of the "loop" look at them. The story does not simply respect a singular time and place in history outside of the stoning aspect. The more important aspect examined is the adherence to tradition and sacrifices made, without questioning, in society in today's cultures.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 22, 2011 at 6:43 AM (Answer #2)

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Since you've specifically requested help, even though you now have a good answer to your question, I'll go ahead and answer with some alternate thoughts. Another aspect you might address is whether you think Jackson does or does not represent human nature adequately.

It seems to me, that while Jackson makes a point about blindly following blind tradition in which superstitious demands supersede other considerations, she does not understand or represent human nature well at all.

so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.

"Well, now." Mr. Summers said soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work. Anybody ain't here?"

We know that civilizations have practiced human sacrifices from the beginning of time--but has Jackson really captured the essence of the psychology behind it? Is there not archaeological evidence that much deeper and prolonged ritual is involved and much more severe tyranny governs the societies that practiced human sacrifice?

You might look at some recent research on the archaeological findings relating to the Mayan civilization and discuss whether Jackson depicts a true or a stilted, artificial, and wholly inadequate picture of humanity.

most of them were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around.

he stood a little apart from his family, not looking down at his hand.

You might then answer the question of whether Jackson's point is made null and void or only made irritating by a an inadequate representation of humanity. A thesis might say something like: While Jackson's theme of the falseness of adhering blindly to superstition may be true, valid and correct, her representation of human nature may be less than adequate so that her understanding of motive and psychology may make her point less than applicable.

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