How do you feel about the townspeople and the tradition of the lottery in the short story "The Lottery?"Explain.

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The tradition of the lottery, according to Old Man Warner, dates back to when he was quite small. This means that the lottery has been in place over 70 years. According to the elder man, the lottery was used to secure the growth of crops, as it is evidenced by the words.

Used to be a saying about Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon. ‘ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There’s always been a lottery!

However, the narrative style that Shirley Jackson uses makes it evident that the central meaning of the story is that this bogus and cruel act goes about the way that it does with the "blessing" of the people. No one goes against it. Nobody asks why. Only once we hear a complaint coming from victim, Tessie Hutchinson herself, who exclaims that the whole thing is not fair. Therefore, "The Lottery" shows how blind compliance, the acceptance of the Status Quo, and oblivious indifference are strong influences that can make or break a group,a tradition, or even a whole nation if it gets that far.

Other than that, it is all "business as usual" in the village. The practice of the lottery is so acceptable that they even make amends for the lottery to take place earlier for the convenience of the people!

in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, 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.

Another indication that shows how sadly this blind tradition affects the villagers is the way in which it is coordinated. According to Jackson's ironic words, 

The lottery was conducted—as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program—by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities.

To categorize the lottery as a civic activity comparable to the Halloween program, the dances, or the teen club, is something to be quite irked about. Here is a clear indication of a town that has become sick and desensitized to the point of turning against their own without even caring to realize it. 

These thematic points are not to be taken lightly. It is true that the unequivocal acceptance of old practices for the mere sake of tradition can be both good and bad. No match for a growing, dynamic society, entails stagnation, and mental and physical inertia. All of these things are negative. Hence, the lottery is a lose-lose situation for everybody involved.

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