|Type of paper:||Literature review|
|Categories:||Shirley Jackson The Lottery|
Traditions exist in every society, but do we have to follow them blindly? "The Lottery" talks about a town which has a lottery every year in choosing the person who is supposed to be sacrificed for it to have plentiful grown crops during the year. The reasons behind the existence of the tradition are not explained in the story. Apart from this tradition, human nature of being violent and cruel to each other is also portrayed. Irony and symbolism are used in "The Lottery" in revealing that traditions which have lost their societal meaning might make otherwise normal individuals in acting abnormally without even thinking.
The black box is the first symbol used in the story, and it has names that are picked annually for the lottery. The black box represents lottery tradition and the loyalty the villagers has on it. Even though the black box was worn out and shabby, the villagers still insisted that they should not get a new one. "Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box" (McMahan et al. 128). The statement shows that the villagers were so obsessed and attached to the box. Also, the black box symbolized the villagers' traditions since, "There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here" (128).
Tessie Hutchinson is used in the story to symbolized people in the society who do not injustices conducted in society until it personally affects them. Tessie follows the tradition of the village on lottery blindly until one of her family members is chosen. When Tessie's family is chosen, she says, "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!" (131). In the past, Tessie was happy to participate in the lottery. However, everything changed when she is chosen which makes her a hypocrite. Furthermore, when she is about to be stoned, she makes claims, "It isn't fair, it isn't right" (132).
The main irony in "The Lottery" is being evil. In society, the lottery might be regarded as a good thing; however, the story depicts it differently. The irony strengthens the horror and surprise of the story. It also makes the reader catch the main idea of the story. At some point in the story, two men discuss a town which stopped performing lottery and the older one says, "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves" (130). The idea of not being civilized if the act is not performed that a reader finds uncivilized is essential to the story's idea.
In summary, the black box symbolizes darkness and death. On the other hand, Tessie symbolizes the people in the society who do not question traditions, irrespective of their inhumanness, until it influences them personally. Moreover, irony is used in the story to reveal the things that make normal people act abnormally. For instance, civilization being talked about by the two men is not even depicted in the story. In the Lottery, the author points out the way humans can follow anything since it is a tradition even if its barbaric.
McMahan, Elizabeth, et al. Literature and the writing process. Pearson, 2018.
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