What does Old Man Warner mean by "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon"?  

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This saying is evidence of the superstition that underlies the lottery. The lottery derives from outmoded ideas that a human sacrifice appeases the gods and leads to a bountiful harvest. Even though the story is set in the supposedly modern era, the village and most of the villages near it still cling to the theory that the harvest will suffer or fail without the sacrifice.

The story illustrates the extent to which outdated or patently false ideas can take hold of a society. Tradition is a very powerful force, as the story shows, even when it is seemingly senseless and destructive.

While the rationale the story gives for stoning a community member to death is to ensure a good harvest, philosopher Rene Girard would argue that the ritual killing has another purpose: anger, envy, and hostility, he says, build up in a community over time, and ritually killing a community member relieves tensions and aggressions, allowing the survivors to live in relative peace.

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This is a allusion to the pagan custom of making a sacrifice to increase the harvest.  Before the world's major religions began, there were many cultures that believed that some god or gods would be pleased with sacrifices and reward the people with a better harvest.  In fact, there are probably still some cultures that practice this custom.  Even today, many mainstream religions have rituals that are deeply rooted in the harvest, even though most of us go to the supermarket now.  One holiday occurring right now in Judaism is Sukkot, which involves building a small structure with no roof, but decorated with hanging fruits and vegetables, which is meant to remind us of the small huts built in the fields as the harvest was going on.  Jackson seems to be suggesting, I think, that in some ways mankind has not advanced very far beyond primitive paganism.

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