Why are the people afraid of change in "The Lottery"?

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ajreads eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is meant to demonstrate the negative impacts of blindly following "tradition" and avoiding societal change. In the story, the lottery is a traditional event that occurs every year on June 27th. The lottery has been an annual event since the first settlers arrived in the town long ago. Although a few things have changed slightly throughout the years, the townspeople refuse to completely change the lottery or to get rid of it entirely. The most likely reason for their hesitation to end the lottery is that they believe canceling the lottery will cause them to have poor crop growth during the coming season. Jackson does not make the reasoning explicit, but the likelihood of this reasoning can be inferred from statements she has placed throughout the story. As the townspeople discuss nearby towns who have cancelled the lottery entirely, Old Man Warner refers to their decision as foolish and states that there used to be a saying, "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon." Old man Warner then goes on to say, "First thing you know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns." Human sacrifices in return for a good crop yield have been prevalent throughout history, especially in the Aztec culture. It is highly likely that the town does not want to alter or get rid of the lottery for fear that without the annual sacrifice they will have a poor crop yield.