Monday, March 7, 2011

“The Lottery” Literary Essay

“The Lottery” Literary Essay

Tradition can cause harm to people who embrace it blindly. Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” is about an outrageous tragedy that takes place in an uneducated community. Tessie, the lottery winner, is stoned to death. Although there is evidence that the lottery will continue, there are also hints that the lottery will eventually fall out of practise.

There are indications that the lottery will linger on. It has existed for more than seventy years, and people still can’t find reasons for it to stop. In fact, the villagers have adapted to the practice so well that even before the lottery starts, “Bobby Martin [has] already stuffed his pockets full of stones” (147). Moreover, after listening to the news that “over the north village [people] are talking of giving up the lottery” (152), Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, states that there is “nothing but trouble in that” (152) and that this is the "seventy-seventh time" (152) he has partaken in the lottery. In addition, he even uses the phrase “pack of young fools,” (152) to depict the people who want to give up the lottery.

However, information in the story also supports the idea that the lottery will later be abolished. When Jackson writes that “years and years ago this ritual [has] been allowed to lapse,” (149) and “there had been, also, a ritual salute” (149), she shows that a lot of the customs in the lottery have been abandoned over a period of time. Furthermore, when Tessie comes running to the square, she utters that she “clean [forgets] what day it [is]” (150), this shows that the lottery isn’t as exciting and thrilling as before. The concept of forsaking the lottery in the future also strikes when Mrs Adams utters “some places have already quit lotteries” (152).

Overall, although it appears that the Lottery will continue indefinitely, there is evidence that the tradition will not last.

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