Textual Analysis of the Lottery

767 Words4 Pages
Danielle L Allen
Professor Shandor
English 1101
Textual Analysis of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

The theme of the short story, “The Lottery,” involves a society’s tendency to blindly and randomly persecute others without reason. The village lottery culminates in an annual violent murder; a ritual, which suggests how dangerous tradition can be when followed blindly. Jackson, the author, focuses on the individuals reverence for tradition, writing that the villagers do not really know much about the lottery’s origin, but continue to make every effort to preserve the tradition nevertheless. Leading the reader to understand that a lack of knowledge and understanding, in addition to reverence toward tradition, compel the villagers to continue only what they know, the lottery. Specifically, Jackson writes that the villagers recall there was, at one time, “a recital of some sort,” and that “some people believed that the official of the lottery used to stand just so when he said or sang it, others believed that he was supposed to walk among the people, but years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse.” (25) These once important procedures were now no more than talk among the villagers, of how the lottery “was originally conducted.” The specific details, lost throughout time, did not prevent the “tradition” from occurring year after year. The villagers reverence toward tradition and fear of the unknown leads them to blindly accept the lottery without question. This blind acceptance allowed a ritual of murder to continue in the village while overlooking the actual history and details. Jackson writes, “Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations.” (25) The villagers justify this annual murder by the

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