What are the consequences of following the crowd as shown in "The Lottery"?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well--this is an interesting ethical and moral question because in actuality, the consequences of following the crowd, as shown in Jackson's "The Lottery," are nill: no consequences are apparent at all--except for one particular person. However, supposing Jackson's characters are capable of true human emotion (which they don't seem to be as their is a deeply distanced separateness: "the men began to gather, surveying their own children, .... [But they] stood together ..."), there may be consequences of sorrow for the family of the lottery winner.

The reason I say there are no consequences apparent except the two above is that Jackson disallows any notion of consequences through her characterizations of the gathering villagers. First, the lottery is timed so that all may return home in time for lunch ("noon time dinner"):

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.

Second, the lottery is viewed as an interruption to work ("Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you") that must be ended as quickly as possible so that work can be returned to:

"Well, now." Mr. Summers said soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work.

Third, the comments made by the villagers show no regret or remorse; they mark only the passing of time as all large events mark the passing of time. In other word, the comments made about the lottery may just as easily be made about Christmas and made in the same melancholy tone as a lament about the accumulation of the passing of time:

"Seems like there's no time at all between lotteries any more."

"Seems like we got through with the last one only last week."

"Time sure goes fast."

After such time-oriented, self-centered remarks, the villagers cold-heartedly pick up their stones, courteously getting big ones to make a quick job of it, then roll their sleeves back up and go back to work. No consequences are apparent at all for the community at large (with the exceptions noted previously). Though, on second thought, this may be a consequence in its own right: cold-hearted disinterestedness and callousness, though with Jackson's weak characterizations, it is impossible to clearly determine whether this may be considered a consequence or not.

karenmac | Student

Everyone thinks that the lottery is a good thing to win. At the end of the story, the people who win actually befall a trajic fate by the hands of the other townspeople. The people do it because everyone else does. They use their own hands to hurt the people who win. The consequences then would be that they are pressured to do something that is morally worng and no one speaks up. Everyone believes the lottery is a good thing, but the reader sees it is ludacris. The reader has reason, morality, and original thought. The reader is capable of making independent decisions, but the townspeople are not.

obwhite | Student

the consequence for following the crowd in "the Lottery" is what it seems to me death by stone. so whoever the winner is then that person would go and get stone, they dont tell us if they do it until the person dies but we know that anyone can die from being stone by a lots of people. No one in the crowd knows why they actually do it but they are scared to change traditions.

Read the study guide:
The Lottery

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question