In the story "The Lotttery", what do you learn about yourself or the world?Like for example, some stories encourage the reader to see that people are often different than they appear on the...

In the story "The Lotttery", what do you learn about yourself or the world?

Like for example, some stories encourage the reader to see that people are often different than they appear on the surface, others cause the reader to consider the power of jealousy,etc.

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story The Lottery shows what occurs when people refuse to question the status quo and, instead, insist on perpetuating the same old behaviors that should have, and indeed must, change with the passing of time. What we find in this interesting story is a section of society that has not progressed mentally and, by default, cannot progress socially. Hence, they continue to adhere to an old tradition that is as criminal as it is grotesque. They conduct this activity, the lottery, with no questions asked.

What a reader sees in this story depends on which point of view one wants to take: Is it the hypocrisy of the people? The coldness of their hearts? The practice of a ridiculous and horrid tradition? The ignorance of people under a bad leadership? There are several themes that we can find in The Lottery. They all teach the reader the importance of always questioning the purpose of our actions and the consequences that they may carry.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My students have a very hard time with this story. They always, at first,fail to understand why people still stone someone. We discuss tradition and community prior to reading the story. They, and I, reminisce about traditions that we have in our family. After reading the story, I ask them how they would feel about someone telling them that they cannot go to grandma's for Thanksgiving or Christmas. They say that no one has the right to take that away from them. Then the light goes on.

I enjoy the story because it both instills the importance of tradition and, at the same time, makes us question things as they are- given they exist for the sole reason of tradition.

susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story makes me wonder what practices we engage in today that years from now others will consider barbaric or cruel.  I'm a child of the 50s, and until I was in my teens, I never thought twice about racial discrimination, separate schools, restrooms, etc.  Like the characters in the short story,  I accepted things because I knew nothing different.  So, what traditions do we follow today that are harmful, cruel, or pointless just because things have always been done that way?  The movie Blood Diamonds, for instance, made me rethink the tradition of the diamond engagement ring.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At most, the best lesson learned from "The Lottery" is that blind superstition--or even blind faith or blind belief--is just that: blind. There is a representation--not so much of human nature as her characters are anything but realistically human--of the consequences, the dehumanization, of following blindly along a path of superstition or faith or belief. It might easily be assert that the underlying philosophical basis of the story is "The unexamined life is not worth living" (Socrates, in Plato, Dialogues, Apology).

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly there are several disconcerting revelations about human nature in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."  One of these is man's innate penchant for violence.  How carefully people disguise this desire with cheerful words such as those of Mr. Summer and Mrs. Delacroix, who laughs softly with Tessie Hutchinson.  Yet, as the ritual is about to start, this same friendly Mrs. Delacroix lugs a huge stone with both hands, encouraging others to "hurry up" in her lust for violence.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the first post here.  This story encourages me to look at my life and think about all the things I do where I just assume that "this is how it's always been, so it's okay to be like this."  Of course, I don't do anything that ends in people being killed, but the story still challenges me to look at the things that I do out of habit or tradition.  It challenges me to really think about whether those things are moral and ethical.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For me, the central message of this incredible story lies in the way that it forces us to re-examine our own customs and traditions, analysing to what extent they might be considered barbaric. The theme of this story seems to lie in the way that horrific acts can be committed under the banner of "tradition," and thus it challenges us to consider very carefully what we do because we have always done it.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story tells us that society is cruel, and we are more likely to sit back and watch injustice and cruelty than we are to do something about it.  It also tells us that when a practice is part of our society, we won't think twice about whether it's right or wrong.