What is the point of "The Lottery"? 

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of the story depends on who you would like the point to be applied to.  What is the point of the lottery for the characters in the story?  What is the point of "The Lottery" as a story to the reader?

For the characters in the story, the lottery is a system of control over a population of people.  The rules of the lottery are simple.  Each family draws cards.  Whatever family is chosen then chooses more cards to determine which person will be stoned to death.  The people blindly comply to it, because it is a rule of their society.  Rules must be followed, because the people think the same way that Old Man Warner does.  When it is mentioned that other places have quit the lottery, he states: 

"Nothing but trouble in that," Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools."

Most of the people feel the same way.  The rules are there for a reason, and it's more trouble than it is worth to do anything else.  Going with that logic, "The Lottery" is no different than how "The Hunger Games" begins.  There is a lottery to see which kid will likely be killed. The point is, follow the rules, because those are the rules.  

The point of the story as a whole to the reader though is a warning against blindly following rules.  The lottery system seems stupid to the reader only because most readers would question the law in the first place.  What Jackson illustrates in her story is what happens to people and a society when they stop critically thinking about the rules being enforced over them.