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DangerousTraditions

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson depicts events in a small townwhere villagers held an annual tradition. The townspeople conducted alottery to select one person who would be stoned to death. Notably,participation in the event is mandatory for all families in thevillage. In The Lottery, Tessie Hutchinson suffers theunfortunate fate of death through stoning. Despite the barbaricnature of the lottery, many people continue to honor itssignificance. Jackson uses the attitudes and actions of the villagersto show the danger associated with blind adherence to inhumanetraditions.

The townspeople honored the annualcustom despite the fact that no one knew about the event’s origin.Notably, the lottery was held long before the existence of “Old ManWarner, the oldest man in town” (Jackson 292). In thismanner, human traditions were given prominence beyond the capacity ofrational thought. Summers tried to make a new box to cater for theincreased population in the town. However, “no one liked to upseteven as much tradition as was represented by the black box”(Jackson 292). As a result, “the black box grew shabbier each year”as “some places faded or stained” (Jackson 293). Admittedly,minor changes had been made to certain aspects of the lottery. Forexample, “Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of papersubstituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations”(Jackson 293). In this regard, the villagers found it “necessary touse something that would fit more easily into the black box”(Jackson 293). Additionally, “a ritual salute” and “aperfunctory, tuneless chant” were removed from the ritual (Jackson294). Regrettably, the villagers maintained the black box despite itdilapidated state.

The irrational nature of the townspeople prevented them fromcontemplating the detrimental effects of the annual ritual. TheLottery describes how some individuals “in the north village”were contemplating “giving up the lottery” (Jackson 297).However, the Old Man Warner considered such people as a “pack ofcrazy fools” (Jackson 297). Furthermore, he claimed that “there’salways been a lottery” in the small town (Jackson 297).Consequently, people who were opposed to the ritual were viewed asuncivilized. Old Man Warner highlighted that abandoning the lotterywould set a dangerous precedent similar to “living in caves”(Jackson 297). Besides, the townspeople reasoned that ending theritual would cause “nothing but trouble” (Jackson 297).Contrariwise, the lottery caused the annual deaths of innocentpeople. Rather than acting as a source of comfort, family units wereused to determine the fate of persons. Despite the fact that Billlacked enough time “to take any paper he wanted,” his householdwas selected for execution (Jackson 299). Sadly, other familiesalleged that they “took the same chance” (Jackson 299).Eventually, Tessie was mercilessly stoned to death. Consequently, thevillagers failed to consider the catastrophic effects of the ritual.

Indeed, Jackson demonstrates that insensitive customs can haveadverse effects on those who choose to uphold them. In The Lottery,the villagers stoned Mrs. Hutchinson since she was randomly selected.Notably, her family members were also willing participants in thesavage act. Granted, some aspects of the ritual were changed toreflect the increase in population. For example, the box wasremodeled while chanting at the event was discontinued. Nonetheless,the villagers maintained brutal aspects of the ritual. Consequently,it is essential for a person to consider the ramifications ofadhering to a particular tradition.

Work Cited

Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” The Lottery and OtherStories. New York: Farrar, 1991, pp. 291-302. Print.