In "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, what could stop the lottery and who could do it?

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In Shirley Jackson's celebrated short story "The Lottery," the nondescript town adheres to tradition and continues to participate in the senseless, brutal ritual simply because it has always taken place. Every citizen involved in the lottery fears that they will draw the slip of paper with the black spot on it and is too relieved that they survived the ritual to protest the tradition. The only person who speaks out against the lottery is the town's scapegoat, Tessie Hutchinson. Tragically, Tessie's voice is silenced by the obedient majority and she is mercilessly stoned to death by her family and neighbors.

In order to discontinue to brutal ritual, an enlightened group of men must address the entire town and present a moving argument against the tradition. In the patriarchal society, men have a voice and the authority to enact change. Given Old Man Warner's conversation with Mr. Adams, there are already rumors surrounding the possibility of ending the lottery, which can open a public discussion among the citizens in the town square sometime after the lottery takes place when emotions are settled.

One could argue that the lottery ritual has already experienced a number of changes and elaborate on its superstitious origins. The enlightened civilians could also petition for a one-year delay in the tradition to see if their society continues to function normally. If they could convince a majority of citizens to delay the lottery, the town would discover that their safety and stability does not hinge on the brutal ritual and eventually discontinue the lottery altogether.

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Clearly, though they balk at going against tradition, few people in the town actually want to participate in the lottery.  The men tell jokes, but no one laughs; they only smile.  No one wants to come forward to help Mr. Summers settle the box onto the stool; it is as if they do not even want to touch the lottery paraphernalia, as though it would bring bad luck.  When Tessie Hutchinson is selected, Mr. Summers just wants to "'finish quickly.'"  No one enjoys this.  Even parts of the ritual have been allowed to lapse over the years: a chant used to be required of the official conducting the ceremony, and a ritual salute used to be given by the official to each person who came forward. The need for both of these aspects of the ceremony have faded away.  Perhaps the entire ritual of the lottery would simply fade away if enough time passes.  

However, one man, Mr. Adams, says to Old Man Warner, the oldest man in the village, that residents of another village are talking of doing away with the lottery.  Warner is unimpressed with this idea.  He says,

Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them.  Next thing you know, they'll all be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while.

Old Man Warner believes the lottery should remain because "There's always been a lottery."  Obviously, protest on the part of the person who has just been chosen is going to fall on deaf ears.  Everyone is probably so relieved that they did not get the black dot on their piece of paper that they do not speak up.  However, it seems logical that this would work.  If one person spoke up and pointed out that the tradition has already changed from what it used to be, that no one in the town (except Old Man Warner) really even wants to participate, and that it is clearly a source of anxiety for everyone, it makes sense that people would listen, especially if they have changed as much as Warner thinks they have.

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In the short story "The Lottery" Shirley Jackson is condemning the blind following of tradition for tradition's sake. Because the townspeople have been stoning one of their citizens to death for many years it is a difficult thing to even question, let alone bring an end to it. The lottery has been in place for a long time, and the older people in the town have become involved with carrying on the tradition. Anyone who questions why such a thing is done is jeered at for not thinking of the best interests of the town, though if they had to state good reasons for the lottery happening they would no doubt be unable to do so.

In order for the lottery to be stopped, people would first have to question it. In the story no one really does although there is conversation about other towns that have stopped the tradition: the milieu of questioning was awakening within the town and the larger community.

Anyone who would successfully challenge the lottery would probably have to do so long before the next one is scheduled. They would have to show that there is no reason for the stoning and appeal to the townspeople's sense of right and wrong in very clear language. As the older people of the town have been involved for so long it is probably up to the younger generation to end the lottery. They would also have to be people who are respected by the rest of the town's citizens and to be very eloquent speakers.

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