Themes and message

Tradition and conformity

The theme of tradition and conformity is explored both explicitly and implicitly in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson through the process of the lottery, a long-standing practice in the village and other communities. Tradition is also indicated by the fact that the ballot box is very old, and the villagers are against replacing it: “no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box” . The villagers’ attitude reveals their respectful and even fearful attitude towards the custom of the lottery.

All villagers seem to agree to the lottery, as they willingly gather in the village square and patiently go through the process of drawing slips of paper from the box. This suggests that the lottery is accepted as a “given” in this society. Moreover, they go through with it although many of the original aspects of the lottery have been lost, and only Old Man Warner remembers that it had something to do with ensuring good crops: “ ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon’ ” .

Note that even Tessie Hutchinson does not protest the lottery itself but argues that the process was unfair . Like the other villagers, she does not question the basic morality of the lottery, she only wants to avoid becoming the victim of it.

Tradition is also reflected in the patriarchal structure of this society. We notice, for example, how the men – the heads of the family – draw first . Te...

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