The Lottery - By Shirley Jackson how does the theme of sacrifice developed in Shirley Jackson "The Lottery?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Shirley Jackson's story is connotative of the ancient practice of finding a scapegoat for the evil plaguing a community.  In this tradition, a goat was taken from the community, hopefully carrying the evil away with it, and it was tied out to die away from the community.  In Jackson's narrative, the meaning of the custom is forgotten but it is followed because, as Old Mr. Warner says, "There's always been a lottery." This unthinking practice of a custom, whether it be sensible or not, is what Shirley Jackson brings to question.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The story brings about questions regarding the historical use of human sacrifice in order to insure a good harvest. While practiced in the past, sacrifice has changed much over the years. While many cultures have forbidden the use of human life in sacrificial events, people can still relate to personal sacrifice for the greater good. I think the horror of sacrificing a life catches many off guard (especially since the idea of the lottery has changed so much).

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