Choosing a Writing Theme for "The Lottery"Which theme do you think is more prominent in the story,  the dark side of human nature or the dangers of ritualized behavior?Can you provide some...

Choosing a Writing Theme for "The Lottery"

Which theme do you think is more prominent in the story,  the dark side of human nature or the dangers of ritualized behavior?

Can you provide some examples of the one that is more prominent?

 

Asked on by dwcsoup22

5 Answers | Add Yours

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Definitely, the dangers of ritualized behavior is definitely the primary theme. Think about it like this: while we recognize the dark side of human behavior, it only existed in the story because people were willing to blindly continue going along with a worn out ritual.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The blind following of the blind.  No one listens when the younger community members suggest a change and tell of other towns which have done away with their lotteries.  They do it annually just because it has always been done--regardless of the damage it causes.  THe first to cast a stone at Mrs. Hutchinson is her son.  What therapy that kid must have to attend in order to get over his actions!

Some traditions are harmless--the wearing of white wedding dresses, or borrowing something old, wearing something blue.  There are other traditions today that we follow which are as dangerous as the lottery--joining gangs because your older siblings were members, the Friday night party that high schoolers attend engaging in drinking or other undesirable and unsafe behaviors, others I am sure you can think of in your area.

Jackson was warning us against being lemmings...don't just follow the crowd because they have always done something.  Think for yourself.  Do not move to Wisteria Lane and become a Stepford Wife!

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

If it were me, I would go with the second choice, the dangers of ritualized behavior.  Rituals can be brutal and senseless, as is the case here.  No one really knows why the town participates in this horrible tradition.  As the omnisceint narrator (one who sees all) tells us: 

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.

If you go this route, you could explore connect this theme to other rituals whose purpose is lost, as well as brutal.  The ritualized circumscision of women in some parts of Africa comes to mind immediately.

Explore other rituals as well.  What can you think of that has little real value?  Piercings, tattooes...not all need be as brutal as Jackson's story, but many ritualistic acts have long lost their original purpose. 

clane's profile pic

clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I think that the dangers of ritualized behavior is a more prominent theme throughout the story, it's really the basis of the story, this lottery ritual. The whole town blindly subscribes to participating in this ritual every year without asking why. They are taught from a very young age that this ritual annual killing is necessary to preserve the good fortune of the town. No one ever asks why, they just do it. The biggest danger of participating in ritualized behavior is that someday it could be you or your family being stoned to death and if you subscribed to it before you cannot argue when it happens to you.

When the Graves family loses the lottery, or rather "wins" Tessie, the mother argues, but no one listens because she has actively participated in the past. She wins the final draw and is stoned to death without question.

lindsayrana's profile pic

lindsayrana | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

The blind following of the blind.  No one listens when the younger community members suggest a change and tell of other towns which have done away with their lotteries.  They do it annually just because it has always been done--regardless of the damage it causes.  THe first to cast a stone at Mrs. Hutchinson is her son.  What therapy that kid must have to attend in order to get over his actions!

Some traditions are harmless--the wearing of white wedding dresses, or borrowing something old, wearing something blue.  There are other traditions today that we follow which are as dangerous as the lottery--joining gangs because your older siblings were members, the Friday night party that high schoolers attend engaging in drinking or other undesirable and unsafe behaviors, others I am sure you can think of in your area.

Jackson was warning us against being lemmings...don't just follow the crowd because they have always done something.  Think for yourself.  Do not move to Wisteria Lane and become a Stepford Wife!

Well thought out!  I agree completely.  The author is trying to warn the reader about the consequences of becoming a follower.

We’ve answered 318,949 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question