In the story "The Lottery," what attitude does the author reveal?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shirley Jackson's attitude towards the brutal, uncivilized tradition of the lottery in the small New England village is incriminating and negative. In the short story, Jackson depicts the citizens of the town as being insensitive, ignorant, and violent as they passively accept the tradition of stoning a random innocent citizen each year. Jackson condemns blindly following traditions and ridicules how the villagers revere the lottery.

The villagers' refusal to replace the damaged black box or do away with the lottery illustrates their reverence towards tradition. The fact that the villagers can casually stone one of their fellow citizens to death and go about their day without remorse also emphasizes the inherent primitive nature of humans. Throughout the story, Jackson accuses these citizens of passively accepting the barbaric ritual of stoning another person and not defending Tessie Hutchinson. Essentially, the villagers cherish honoring a senseless tradition more than they value human life.

Overall, Jackson's emphasis towards the ignorance and ritualistic nature of the villagers is negative and incriminating.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jackson’s attitude toward human nature is not positive in “The Lottery.”  She seems to feel that there are two types of people who are responsible for the tragedy—the ones who perpetuate the tradition and the ones who do nothing to stop it.

In the village, the people choose a person by lottery to stone to death each year. They have no particular reason for doing so, and they do not particularly like to do so.  Yet tradition is so important to these people that they will do it even though it is absurd.

As the girl and her mother plead for her life, the people of the village throw stones at her.  There is no sympathy.  There is no hesitation.  The only people who seem to object are the victim and her mother.

"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

Jackson’s point is that people will act in whatever way they can get away with.  It is easier to follow tradition than to question it.  Human nature is to go with the flow of the others, not against it, even if that means actions most of us would agree are deplorable.

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The Lottery

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