In "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, what the kind of group behavior that exists? What human nature exists?

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The group behavior in "The Lottery" is characterized by tradition and custom formed as what is known as group think.  Where an entire group of people believe the same thing even though it appears irrational and illogical.  No one acts as an individual, the town functions as a group for the lottery, no one objects, except Tessie Hutchinson, after her family is hastily picked and she is the "winner" of the lottery this year.

The behavior itself can be described as violent and cruel. The random selection of a member of the town to stone to death once a year is viewed as an ordinary event, similar to a county fair or a town picinic.

What the story points out is the dual nature of humanity.  Human beings can be both kind and loving and cold and cruel. This is exhibited in the story through the behavior of most of the townspeople who are eager to stone Tessie Hutchinson, except Mrs. Dunbar.

Two examples of the dual nature of humanity are:

Mrs. Dunbar is reluctant to participate, she picks up a very small stone.  As compared to Mrs. Graves who snaps at Tessie Hutchinson when she complains about the selection method and then positions herself in the front of the crowd as the stoning begins, ready to throw a heavy stone.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another group behavior is the "mob" mentality;  the entire town has been so used to the lottery taking place every year that even though many of them would like to see it abolished, they are hesitant to do so.  This is due to their fear of being admonished or punished for suggesting that it be abolished, most likely.  Often, when a tradition has been in place for so long and the whole town participates in it, it is very difficult to have the tradition changed or stopped because there is pressure to conform to the majority.  Often, when individuals can get caught up in a "mob" mentality because "everyone else is doing it" and these individuals do not want to ruffle feathers, so to speak.  

Read the study guide:
The Lottery

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question