The Significance Of Ritual And Tradition In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

554 Words3 Pages
The short story, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, reveals how ritual and tradition can control society. The ending has a sharp contrast to the normalcy of the story, giving it the horror type appearance. The lottery is an unquestioned ritual that takes place in a small town each year. Unfortunately, the winner of the lottery must be stoned to death, like a sacrifice, to continue the tradition. Ritual and tradition cause a great deal of tension surrounding the lottery. Some people in the town support the lottery, especially Old Man Warner. He makes his point by exclaiming, “Pack of crazy fools,”...“Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back into living in caves,…show more content…
It is a normal, annual occurrence in the small town. It doesn’t stand out and is like all the other usual activities, “The lottery was conducted—as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program—by Mr. Summers, who had time to devote to civic activities.” Mr. Summers is the head of the Lottery and is the symbol of power. Because of his role, he is like the town executioner. On the outside, he has a strong title, but personally with his wife he is not doing too well. Society is very accustomed to the Lottery. It has become a part of their lives, “The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to their directions.” They are not bothered much by it. Because of how long the Lottery’s tradition has been kept, society does not question and goes along with it. However, some people have changing, even negative attitudes towards the lottery. For instance, the Adam’s family does not yet accept the lottery because they think it is no longer necessary for society to function well. While the slips of paper are being pulled, Mrs Adams says “Some places have already quit lotteries.” She did not randomly bring up this point, and was most likely thinking about why she is even doing it. The Adam’s attitude demonstrates that some people no longer want to practice the Lottery, probably because they realize how terrible it

More about The Significance Of Ritual And Tradition In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

Open Document