The Lottery and Its Tradition
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" opens on a clear and sunny day. However, the story holds a mystery that slowly turns into something bizarre. A happy ending is anticipated, but irony brings about the complete opposite. As the narrator, Jackson describes how brutal some traditions are and how people willingly continue to follow them. Over time, people forget the true meaning behind such traditions, slowly distancing themselves from the origin of the event. Throughout the story, the three main examples of how people blindly follow senseless traditions are the lottery itself, the black wooden box, and Mrs. Hutchinson being late to the event.
The lottery lacks information. It has existed for as long as the townspeople can remember; people do not know when it started or when it will conclude. The result of this lottery is murder. Tradition is an element that keeps beliefs and societies. They are meant to be continued. Nevertheless, society has become so used to rituals and traditions that they continue participating past their morals and ethics. "'Nothing but trouble in that,' Old Man Warner said stoutly" (Jackson 860). Old Man Warner is a man who has lived through more than seventy-seven lottery drawings. He snorts when he is told that in some towns, the lottery no longer exists. He was the oldest one in the village, and his age gave people hope of staying alive. Warner's actions are symbolic because he blindly accepted the "lottery." The townspeople were determined to fulfill the lottery despite the fact that the reasons for the lottery tradition were easily fading away and losing their importance and significance. Because it has been passed down from generation to generation, the old box in the story represents unenthusiastic participation in an annual tradition. In fact, the villagers' thoughts on the "lottery" itself are represented in the way this box is revered. A story centering on this box described how it had been made from pieces of the box that had preceded it. Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers initiated a discussion about making a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade without anything being done. Thus, the black wooden box grew shabbier each year. Eventually, it was no longer completely black. It became splintered badly along one side, revealing the original color of the wood. In some places it was faded or stained (Jackson 858). Since the "lottery" signified a horrific event, the villagers did not feel the need to treat the shabby black box with care. All in all, the box symbolizes the power of the ritual and the fear of the victims. While some things had changed over the time, the people of the town resisted certain disruptions to their heritage.
The color black helps the author develop the story. The color black normally illustrates death; which relates back to the box as...