Discuss Weltanschauung (world view) in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that one of the larger views of the world that Jackson offers is the "tyranny of the majority."  If the story is considered from Tessie's point of view, Jackson's view of social orders is an oppressive one.  The ending where Tessie's screams are heard while everyone, including her family, picks up stones to pulverize her is a vision where society's potential for oppression is viewed.  For Jackson, the individual needs some level of shields or defenses against a society that has turned against them.  I would say that another view of the world that Jackson offers is how individuals become complacent what what is and what has been.  There is some chatter in the woods that morning about "doing away" with the lottery.  Yet, people like Old Man Warner deride the idea without giving much in way of explanation.  Jackson's view of the world here is one where individuals lack the courage to be able to articulate where a world should be and are more likely to embrace what the world is.  The lack of a creative power or transformative vision that these individuals might be a part of the reason why social practices silence voices as opposed to embracing them.  Finally, I think that an interesting idea about the nature of justice emerges here.  The question that Jackson leaves the reader pondering is whether Tessie is screaming about the "unfairness" of the lottery's practice because it is happening to her or because she legitimately sees it as unfair.  Phrasing this another way, if another person would have been victimized by the lottery, would Tessie still object as vehemently as she did?  I think that Jackson's world view is also present in this idea.  Do individuals speak out against perceived unfairness because their interests are threatened or because a larger interest is being challenged?  How individuals answer this might also reflect much about an individual's own world view as well as the vision Jackson presents in her short story.

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