Analyze the character of the Old Man Warner in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”

The character of Old Man Warner is aptly named, since he is an old man who is always issuing dire warnings. He is cantankerous, curmudgeonly, and suspicious of all change and of youth itself. He seems always to have been old.

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The character of Old Man Warner is succinctly summed up in his name. He is an old man who likes warning people about things. Old Man Warner is the oldest male inhabitant of the small town which provides the setting for "The Lottery." His age gives him status in the community. Events are dated with reference to his birth, and Mr. Summers asks whether he is present before beginning the ritual. However, Old Man Warner is more of a cantankerous bystander than a participant in any of the events. His role is to stand on the sidelines and bark criticism, constantly complaining that things are not as they used to be and refusing even to consider the possibility that change might make things better. Old Man Warner's age is such an integral part of his character that it is impossible to imagine him ever being young.

In the story's presentation of insane conformity and blind adherence to tradition, Old Man Warner is the worst offender, since he insists that all change is bad. It is clear that he is seldom, if ever, challenged on this point, since he never gives the slightest reason for his opinions. When told that other towns have dispensed with the lottery, he merely growls that it will cause trouble and that those who countenance such innovation are "young fools." Youth, in Old Man Warner's mind, is synonymous with foolishness.

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