Shirley Jackson Ritual

994 Words4 Pages
Ritual has an origin, based on an important event that alters a specific society, at best it strengthens their collective identity and culture, at worst it dwindles into obscurity over time. The ritual usually amount to a goal, whether that is a spiritual connection with higher powers, cleansing of conscience or simply a means to create a pattern in the daily life. However, what happens when the essential part of the ritual gets lost through time? When the general conception is tainted, twisted and turned into an inhumane activity? What if it was always inhumane, and this ritual is antiquate, and does not belong in the modern times. How far will people go to maintain a specific fraction of their identity?
The author Shirley Jackson illustrates
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However, the cautious atmosphere slowly creeps into the story. Except for the children, oddly enough piling stones and stocking their pockets, the men seem very tense. Though, there is not anything particularly notable about their manners, and soon the wives arrive. A couple of times it is mentioned that someone had almost forgotten the day, and at times, someone apologize for almost being late. However, one thing is consistent through the paragraphs, and that is the collective agreement that something is amiss with this ritual. There is the opinion of the man, who organizes the ceremony, Mr. Summer’s own opinion, “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villages about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by this black box” (p. 27 l. 1-3). Although he has an essential role in the lottery, Mr. Summers does not seem to appreciate the complete ritual, but for him some parts of it outweighs others, quite like the children’s eagerness to collect stones. The ritual appears hollow then, as if the boxes are interchangeable as long as the outcome remain the same. Almost as if, the meaning disappeared along with the original paraphernalia. This information suddenly changes the perception of why some people are late. The…show more content…
The stones are referred to a lot, but subtly connected with children that the reader simply brushes it off, as a game to kill the time. However, the behavior that stands out is the men, “They stood together, away from the piles of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed” (p.26 l. 19-21). This works as the first red flag in the story, since it does not correlate to the expected behavior of men, who have a chance to win something. There are countless of small hints that contribute to making the red flag more apparent, the women are not dressed for the occasion, the villagers keep their distance from the box, and there is a hesitation, when Mr. Summers asks for help. The anticipation among the population is gloomy, and there is nothing in the text that points toward a happy outcome, yet the foreshadowing flies over the head of most readers. However, when the readers are finally awakened as the first stone is thrown, the execution of Tessie has begun, and the whole village proceeds to do what is expected of them. The irony of this story lies in the title and the diversion from the meaning we associate with lottery, except in this instance the winner is actually the loser, and instead of winning a bag of money, they lose their
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