A Response to Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'

Categories: The Lottery

The short story written by Shirley Jackson, ‘The Lottery’ sets forth a stage that allows the reader to identify with and make various connections with. Of the many associations the reader can formulate, I found three to be the most obvious. ‘The Lottery’ illuminates the danger of blindly following traditions and its effects on the individual, one’s fear of change, and similarities shared with the popular novel, ‘The Hunger Games,’ written by Suzanne Collins.

In ‘The Lottery’ Tessie Hutchinson draws a slip of paper harvesting the black dot, thus declaring her the ‘winner’.

However, the winner of this lottery is condemned to death even though murder is completely wrong and savage. The villagers in the story do not question their actions because it has been an annual tradition for as long as any of them can remember. The only character that realizes this is wrong is Tessie. Once she became the victim, she was able to see that what the village was doing was wrong, but by this time it was too late.

None of the villagers decide to stand up against what was wrong, because in their opinion if it is not happening to them then they are okay.

People have a natural resistance to change due to the uncertainty of the future. In ‘The Lottery’ changing the villagers traditions is not possible. Although it is suggested that having the lottery ensures a good harvest when Old Man Warner says, ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon’  , there is no clear reason as to why the lottery must continue other than the fact of it being a tradition.

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Old Man Warner’s opposition to change is evident in the quote ‘When Mr. and Mrs. Adams suggest to Warner that some other villages have already given up the lottery or are thinking about doing so, he replies with, ‘Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves. There’s always been a lottery’  . In this story Mr. Adams represents my generation. My generation has established opinions and ideas much different from previous generations, but such opinions and ideas are not prized because older generations are unsure of what may come in the future. An example of this is the idea of living with one’s significant other before marriage. It is feared that only sin can manifest from this scenario, and it has been wrong for many generations before today. When in reality the couple are only looking to get to know each other better, see how they live together, and/or save money before actually getting married and being with each other for life.

In ‘The Lottery’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ desensitization is an underlying theme. In ‘The Hunger Games’ one boy and one girl, age twelve through eighteen, are selected by a lottery system in each of the twelve districts to battle to death in a televised event as tribute to the Capital. This ‘game show’ is a prized event to the wealthy citizens of the Capital, and they watch it without a single shutter regardless of the barbaric bloodbath of children. In ‘The Lottery,’ villagers of all ages stone their neighbors and family members without a slither of regret or guilt. These traditions in the two stories are idolized as entertainment. Moral human emotion has elapsed over the years as citizens of both societies are persuaded that violence and cruelty to the stated degree is acceptable. This theme of desensitization, leading to the death of both societies, reinforces the mindless follow of tradition.

Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ allows readers to establish multiple connections with themselves, the world, and other works. One of the three prominent connections to me is the fact that people blindly follow traditions. This further persuades me to think independently and to establish and follow my own morals of right and wrong, regardless of what the world is doing. Next, the fear of change prevents new opinions and ideas to be prized. Finally, ‘The Lottery’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ share the similar theme of desensitization, which further persuades people to mindlessly follow traditions.

Works Cited

  1. Jackson Shirley. ‘The Lottery.’ The Brief Bedford Reader, edited by X. J. Kennedy, et al., 13th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017, pp 90-97.

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 A Response to Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'. (2021, Apr 23). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/a-response-to-shirley-jackson-s-the-lottery-essay

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