What about the rituals? Are they important?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The rituals of "The Lottery" are by far the most relevant piece of the text.  This is stated because the lottery would not take place without the ritual and the pieces of the ritual itself.

The use of the black box is relevant given the color of the box symbolizes what is brings: death.

The use of the date is important given this could have been the period where planting/harvesting season took place. They needed the lottery to insure a good harvest.

The use of the three-legged stool could be important given the instability of the population. One could interpret the stool as a symbol that illustrated the necessity of the lottery in order to insure a successful harvest.

The use of the black dot is important, in regard to the ritual, given it represents the one marked to die for the better of the community.

All of the rituals are important given they are the sole reason the lottery has been maintained. The lottery has shown to be fruitful and the ritual will stay until it comes to be deemed benefit-less.

epollock | Student

The ritual traces of the lottery are mentioned in paragraphs 5, 7, 13, 32, and 49. It would appear that elements such as the jingle (which was apparently supplied by Jackson’s husband, the critic Stanley Hyman), and the former use of wood chips, suggest an earlier, more formalized procedure. Some common examples of anachronistic rituals might be touching wood, throwing salt over one’s left shoulder, dreading the breaking of a mirror, or fearing a black cat crossing one’s path. Students will unquestionably be able to supply many other residual superstitions. This is truly one of Shirley Jackson' most outstanding pieces. 

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The Lottery

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