The Lottery Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

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Why would the villagers in "The Lottery" keep following the blind tradition?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Why do we, today, follow blindly after blind ideas or traditions? For example, here are some present blind ideas/traditions we blindly follow after: My family has always voted Republican/Democrat, so I do too; Literature is good because critics say it is and it is assigned in school, even tough I loath reading it, and it depresses me and gives me nightmares; My music choice is good music because everyone listens to it and says it's good; Ethnic groups are no good because everyone says they're no good. If we think we are not guilty of some or all of such blind ideas and traditions, we deceive ourselves (under our faded house dresses and sweaters)--which is Jackson's point, isn't it?

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I think that Jackson is asking us to ask this question by writing the story. It's like the mythical lemmings who all ran over the cliff because the rest were doing it—it makes no sense. Even some characters in the story discuss that other towns are talking of stopping their lottery, but in this town—like...

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emsed | Student

I feel that the villagers continue this tradition, because of groupthink. That's when people make decisions to conform to the group that they're in, so they don't feel isolated from the rest of the group. From context clues, we can tell that this is a very old tradition that's been going on in the village for years and despite its brutal outcome, no one objects to it. They all draw from the box and whoever ends up with the slip of paper, the villagers begin stoning them and this has been going on for years and years. There might be people in the group who disagree with this practice, but they continue to go along with it so they can conform to the society around them.

thewanderlust878 | Student

I believe that they blindly follow the tradition because they don't know what else to do. Without the stability of the tradition, I don't think they would know what to do with themselves. Even though the tradition is not something that is good, the villagers have never experienced anything different, so I believe it would be worse without the tradition. 

malika786 | Student

majority of them are illitrate .........

 

mathebula | Student

The story highlights the danger of following tradition without quiestioning it. It also shows the savagery of human being. In this story there is an old man werner whom resist change. even though they tells him that other tribes had leaved the lottery, he does not agree on change without giving valid reason. there's an innocent woman whom is stoned to death. every winter a person dies at lottery but they dont want to stop it.

gregghebert | Student

One word: superstition.

What would have happened if the villagers had not blindly followed the tradition? The answer: no one knew. The villagers felt as if they could not break from tradition because of the consequences that could potentially ensue.

The villagers were simple people, that much is certain. Their harvest was what sustained them and they simply could not risk adversely affecting it.

Furthermore, many vicious traditions need not be explained - precedent is sometimes the only thing that thrusts them forward.

The fear of the unknown often locks a person into the prison of habit.