The role of tradition in community in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

Custom can be deemed a way of living, developing an unwilling reaction in a civilization when the idea of change comes about, no matter how barbaric these customs might be. Shirley Jackson in her short story, “The Lotto”, with the use of meaning shows how strong custom can be promoted in a community.

When a black box is brought into the room, the story focuses on the particular features of its appearance, provoking symbolic meaning. By using the technique of mis anticipation, Jackson is able to draw attention off the real dark significance behind this “lottery game”. Digging much deeper into the story we can catch a modification in mood as we understand the true reality of the matter; a stoning. This tradition stays after all this time and becomes a social norm that even kids would want to stone others and periodically members of their own family.

Many signs in the story had actually a paralleled meaning to the idea of tradition. One example would be the black box in the story that was used as a common paper draw box, where the head of each household would select a strip of paper, however symbolically served its function in the story to show the custom that has stuck for several years. This representation becomes evident when package is represented to be “an old black wood box”, that some townspeople believe still have pieces of the original box connected to it. The truth that this box is thought to still hold parts of the original, portrays a concept that after several years this box being a symbol of tradition for the townspeople, has actually been able to remain without any outside forces having the ability to break it or replace it with something brand-new as generations pass. A reinforcement that suggests that these people did not wish to let go of this old custom is when “Mr. Summers spoke regularly to the villagers about making a brand-new box, but nobody liked to distress even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.” (Jackson, Pg. 5) This enables the reader to much better understand the significance of the black box through the embodied symbolic meaning.

Reiterating the idea that tradition can be a powerful concept, we discover that this cruel custom-made has ended up being an appropriate concept within the neighborhood due to the fact that of the reality that the whole town gathers around with what appeared to be interesting, to a death assembly but it follows through so delicately since all moral repulsion has been blocked. To some extent, some characters see it as a need, a way of life that can not be broken. As the story explains that, “the black box now resting on the stool had actually been put into use even prior to Old Man Warner, the oldest guy in town, was born”, we can understand that “Old Man” Warner is used as a symbol too, and when he finds out about a town that has gotten rid of that tradition he grumbles. He dislikes the idea as he’s lived his entire life experiencing this older tradition.

Old Man Warner takes it upon himself to promote this tradition in the story by mis expecting the tone of story Jackson is able to draw the attention away from the reality that this lottery is one that ends in death of whoever wins it. Experiencing each character’s nervous reaction to the draw of paper, gives us a concept that there may be a bit more at stake. When describing the setting, it has a warm feel to it as they explain that it is June (summertime) which the townspeople all casually gather around to start what nearly appears to be a vacation with excited kids running around picking up stones for an unidentified reason which becomes more obvious as the story develops. The fact that everyone in this town is really ready to take part, brings a basic idea that this behavior has ended up being a social norm.

As the story goes on, we can rapidly establish the concept that this lottery game picks one person to get stoned to death, nearly like a one-day complimentary pass to allow individuals of the town to eliminate someone and treat the bloodlust of murder or usually crime to be tamed till the next year. By doing so, the story effectively creates a plot twist that understands the audience’s interests.

The story inclusively ends with the death of a woman who was selected to be stoned to death by the remainder of the townsfolk in this twisted lotto. These people had no grace as to eliminating another person due to the fact that they see this process as a way of living that in using the literary technique of foreshadowing, the story successfully produces a sense of questioning.

Many hints are put throughout the story when even children, or more specifically the little young boys who “ultimately made a great stack of stones in one corner of the square and secured it against the raids of the other boys”. In this immediate we can gather an idea, but still unpredictable, regarding what is genuinely going on. Not just is questioning provoked but also a sense of suspense in wondering how these odd circumstances correspond to the present minute in the story. By doing so, their eyes need to continue. Tradition will and need to be supported or all else will stop working as a community in the eyes of the civilization, but some shy away from bringing change in worry. Nonetheless, any factor regarding why this “lottery,” continues is all the more reinforcement in the truth that custom, if taken seriously, is an effective idea that can change an entire civilization’s views, beliefs, and way of living in general.

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