"The Lottery" is a wonderfully dark short story published in 1948 by Shirley Jackson. One of the major themes present in the story is a theme about tradition. Specifically, the theme shows readers about the dangers of blindly following tradition for the sake of following tradition. This is where a small conflict arises between Old Man Warner and Mr. and Mrs. Adams. The conflict is based on the different points of view that exist between the two parties regarding the lottery tradition. About halfway through the story, Mr. Adams brings up the rumor that villages in the north are considering giving up the lottery:
"They do say," Mr. Adams said to Old Man Warner, who stood next to him, "that over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery."
Old Man Warner snorts and flatly states his opinion on that concept. It's clear that he isn't in favor of giving up the lottery. He thinks the very notion is utter rubbish and that it would lead to society reverting back to cavemen times:
"Pack of crazy fools," he said. "Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while."
Mrs. Adams chimes in to support her husband, and she says that some places have already quit the lottery. Old Man Warner reiterates his thoughts about those people being packs of fools, and he says that nothing but trouble will come from giving up the lottery.
The conversation then ends, but it is clear that villagers like Old Man Warner feel that the lottery is very important. It is seen as integral to having a functioning society, and questioning that is akin to heresy or treason. The exchange does create tension between Warner and Mr. and Mrs. Adams because it's clear that they do not see eye to eye on the issue. Confrontation always builds tension, but the exchange also builds tension for the reader. Prior to this exchange, much of our feelings about this village get-together and lottery are likely quite positive. People are congregating, children are running, time off of work is taken, and winning a lottery is generally assumed to be a good thing. But after this exchange, a reader can't help but question why villages would even consider giving up something that is good—unless it's not something good.
Readers come to realize that winning the lottery wins you a future death certificate, and we are appalled that a town could maintain such a horrific tradition. We are especially shocked that the tradition continues despite the fact that most of the townspeople don't even know why the lottery was created in the first place; therefore, none of them know why the lottery continues other than the fact that it always has. Interestingly, Mr. Adams may have questioned the continuation of the lottery before the names were drawn, but he definitely doesn't hold back when it comes to killing someone else. We are told that he was in the front of the crowd that was stoning Tessie Hutchinson:
Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. "It isn't fair," she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, "Come on, come on, everyone." Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.