Can you support......Q1) Can you support a claim  that this story is presented from the objective point of view? Why is the dispassionate, master-of-fact tone of the story so effective?Q2) By...

Can you support......

Q1) Can you support a claim  that this story is presented from the objective point of view? Why is the dispassionate, master-of-fact tone of the story so effective?

Q2) By transporting a primitivistic ritual into a modern setting, the story reveals something about human nature and human society. What? 

Q3) What is significance of the fact that the original has been lost and many parts of the ritual have been forgotten? Can you find a statement in the story that most likely explains the original purpose of the ritual? What does the black box symbolize?

Expert Answers
karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson writes in the voice of an objective and dispassionate third-person narrator. The narrator presents the events of the story in a matter-of-fact way, which makes the surprise ending feel especially shocking to the reader. The narrator's judgement of the town's behavior is only implied, so the reader can determine for him or herself that the lottery is regressive and cruel. 

By depicting the town's continuation of a primitive ritual in a more modern setting, Jackson suggests that this town, and maybe humanity in general, is prone to cling to traditions simply because they fear or dislike change. There is a sense, in the story, that the lottery is continued and is performed in the way it is simply because that is how things have always been and no one wants to question that. The story suggests that at the core, some parts of human nature are quite barbaric. 

The original purpose of the lottery seems to have been to ensure that the crops would grow and the town would have a strong harvest. The lottery is sort of a sacrifice; if one town member is killed each year in the lottery, the town thinks it can secure the prosperity of the rest of the townspeople. The absence of the original account of the ritual may be significant because it doesn't actually matter what an "account" said at one time; the town has simply repeated the same behavior for years and years out of fear. They do not think about why they are doing this or how an outsider might view the town knowing this about it. The town blindly follows and clings to the ritual, which makes its people seem backwards and ultimately cruel, as they turn on each other, even against family, to preserve their rite. 

sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By remaining dispassionate and objective, the narrator assumes the tone (which is the attitude of the writer to her subject matter) that most of the town displays toward the ritual. The exception is Tess, who's attitude changes significantly after she is chosen.

The story reveals how easily a group of people will act in the name of tradition rather than trying to do what is right. We accept violent, ritualistic behavior in people we would call "uncivilized," but we believe civilization cleanses humans of such tendencies by the forces of guilt if nothing else. This causes us to ask ourselves what do we now do out of thinking "it's always been done that way" rather than because it is right. And, this also reveals the power of mob rule, where all follows the crowd, which many psychologists have agreed is a human tendency despite philosophers warning against this.

"Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon" is the saying handed down over generations as the reason for the lottery. Its original purpose seems to have been to function as a fertility ritual, a sort of sacrifice "to the gods" to increase agricultural productivity.  That the original black box is gone and details have been forgotten signifies the ritual is no longer pertinent and people do it out of habit.  The blackness of the box symbolizes the evil nature of it. Some Marxist critics consider "the box" a locus of power held by the ruling group in the town.

aim94 | Student

Q2) By transporting a primitivistic ritual into a modern setting, the story reveals something about human nature and human society. What? 

The tradition of performing and following through with the lottery represents how people tend to blindly follow what they are told without applying any reasoning of their own. The Lottery mentioned in the narration was a tradition and was being conducted since many years,

"the original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born". 

"here was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here".

These interjections provide evidence of it being a historic event. Despite, knowing that the outcome of this activity lead to loss of an innocent life people continued to comply with it only based on the reasoning that their ancestors did so. The lottery did much harm than good and it was common sense to all the people ,but they did not bother to object in the name of tradition. This also shows the human trait of choosing to  be submissive to another authoritarian voice because it does not require any effort or logical thinking. However ,the alternative situation requires an effort which automatically makes it less appealing. This reveals that it is in human nature to opt for the easy way out even though clearly knowing its dangers.

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The Lottery

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