Fear of Change
There are many things that people do every day without questioning why they do them. These are our habits and traditions, and though for the most part they are unimportant and can be a crucial part of our culture and our interactions with each other. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is a story of tradition and the inability to see past it. The lottery ends in a violent murder each year, a bizarre ritual that suggests how dangerous tradition can be when people follow it blindly. The villagers don’t really know much about the lottery’s origin but try to maintain the tradition nevertheless. The villagers’ blind acceptance of the lottery has allowed ritual murder to become part of their town structure. Shirley Jackson demonstrates two literary devices such as character and symbolism throughout the story.
The children in the story represent the lack of innocence, despite the fact that they probably do not understand reality of the circumstances they are expected to participate in the lottery. The children at the beginning of the story are joyfully collecting rocks possibly not fully aware that they would later be used to kill one of their neighbours. After Tessie opens her slip of paper with the black spot on it “The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles” (244). This quote signifies that the town raises the children to believe that the lottery, that death of a loved one and that not grieving are perfectly normal activities. This quote represents that teaching generation after generation traditions that may no longer apply, that other towns are giving up, will only breed more ignorance. It is significant that the traditions of the lottery are passed on before Davy can fully understand them. This is how he can so innocently participate in the lottery. Jackson demonstrates the dangers of blindly following and accepting traditions. Tessie Hutchinson signifies fighting against tradition, in the story she can be perceived as selfish and simply wanting to protect herself however, she also symbolizes the superior voice of reason. She continually claims “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (244). Tessie demonstrates challenging the barbaric tradition that the whole town blindly follows.
Shirley Jackson demonstrates the use of symbols in “The Lottery.” The black bock is a symbol linked to tradition. In...