In Shirly Jackson's "The Lottery," what is the meaning of Old Man Warner's quotation, "Things ain't the way they used to be"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the eldest man in the community created by Shirley Jackson in her short story, "The Lottery," Old Man Warner can remember best the earlier lotteries when he was a boy. For example, the black box from which the lottery names are drawn is a replacement for the original, which

... now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born.

There is even talk in other towns of abolishing the lottery, to which Old Man Warner responds,

"There's always been a lottery... Pack of young fools!"

Old Man Warner does not believe in change, and he thinks that the old traditions are best--not a wholly unusual response for people who can remember older, simpler times of the past. He does not approve of the sympathy voiced by some of the villagers, such as when a girl whispers, "I hope it's not Nancy." Old Man Warner still believes in the ancient purpose of the lottery--to insure good crops--and he is near the front of the crowd when it's time to use the stones they have been gathering.

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The Lottery

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