What seems to have been original purpose of the lottery, and what do people believe about it in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"?

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The exact purpose of the lottery is nebulous, but apparently it was started as some sort of superstition-based ceremony to ensure crops would grow and produce a sizable yield. Now, it has simply become a ritual the townspeople blindly follow, and those who have an innate proclivity for violence take delight. 

There is truly a sense of blind adherence to tradition in the members of the community. They gather together and "their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed." When a late Mrs. Hutchinson makes her way through the crowd toward her husband, "[T]he people separated good-humoredly to let her through." Mrs. Hutchinson excuses herself by saying to the man in charge of the lottery, "Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you, Joe?"

When it is time to start the lottery, Mr. Summers says soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work." As Mr. Summers calls names out, Mr. Adams remarks to Old Man Warner, "They do say. . . that over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery." Mr. Warner snorts in disgust and says,

Pack of crazy fools. . . Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while. Used to be a saying, 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' First thing you know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There's always been a lottery.

Then, there are those who simply delight in the violence of the lottery. Before Mr. Summers arrives, Bobby Martin, Dixie Delacroix, and the Jones boys stockpile stones so they have enough ammunition to throw when it is time. Even Mrs. Delacroix, who has spoken in a friendly manner to the victim, Tessie Hutchinson, tells her to "be a good sport" after she is selected. Shortly after saying this, Mrs. Delacroix "selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands." She tells Mrs. Dunbar, "Come on. . . Hurry up!"

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