“Decoding Symbols in ‘the Lottery’: a Cultural Studies Approach” Essay

1727 WordsJul 22, 20127 Pages
“Decoding Symbols in ‘The Lottery’: A Cultural Studies Approach” Inherent in every human’s soul lies a need to belong—that is why we have groups. Within every group there exists a social construction of norms, values, beliefs, and traditions. We as humans have an ethical responsibility to not accept things at face value (Johannesen, Valde, Whedbee 23). It is imperative that we use critical thinking and reasoning to come up with our own conclusions of what is right and what is wrong in our society otherwise we will become victims of a phenomenon called groupthink which is a theory developed to explain the disadvantages of highly cohesive groups and the effects it has on society as a whole. The consequences of groupthink are rampant in Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”. In, “The Lottery”, Jackson presents many symbolic messages and themes that illustrate what happens when a society succumbs to groupthink in order to warn us of the dangers of not being our own critical thinkers and idly accepting things at face-value. The setting of “The Lottery” takes place on a warm and sunny day on June 27th. “The flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green” (Jackson). Every year during this time the residents of the village participate in a lottery. In most cases a lottery would result in a desirable outcome for the winner however, in this story the lottery is more beneficial to those who do not win considering the fact that the winner will be stoned by the rest of the community. The character, Old Man Warner, states that there is a saying, “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” This saying explains the reason for the stoning: Each year someone is sacrificed for the greater good of the village. It is a symbol of how in ancient civilizations people would offer blood to the gods hoping that the offering would please the gods and to

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