In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," who controls the town?  

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While some would argue that men control the unnamed town in "The Lottery," they merely play a more dominant role in the story than do the women. Ultimately, tradition controls Shirley Jackson's fictional village. No reason is ever given for the continued practice of choosing a scapegoat each year, but as the ritual is carried out, Jackson describes in detail how closely the townspeople follow past each custom associated with it. It even takes place in a setting--the Town Hall--where other traditions such as the Halloween program and teen club occur. Similarly, the objects associated with the lottery are viewed as almost sacred, and even though a new box is needed, when Mr. Summers mentions it,

"no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box."

By allowing tradition to control the town and its inhabitants, Jackson demonstrates humanity's tendency to deify customs and to go along with mob mentality.

Read the study guide:
The Lottery

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question