Power and the Group: Meaning and Contex t in The Lottery Essay

1968 Words 8 Pages
Power and the Group: Meaning and Context in The Lottery

There is power in any group consensus. As long as the group thinks as a group they gain authority and power over single voice. The group deflects the problems of the individual by diffusing responsibility thoughout its members. Diffusion of responsibility allows the group to think as an entity. Over time, the entity develops a set of mores. Mores within the group are very strong. The group takes on characteristics and functions as if it were possessed of individuals, but because its responsibility is to remain all knowing, all-powerful and obs equious. Claiming responsibility would in effect threaten the entity, so instead the entity threatens the individual
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Later, when assembled for the drawing, the Watson boy, “Blinked his eyes nervously and ducked his head” (1875-76). In her description of the drawing, Jackson writes, “men were holding the small folded papers in their large hands, turning them over and over nervou sly” (1876). Finally our curiosity is piqued when, “a girl whispers, “I hope it’s not Nancy” (1879) and not knowing why, we too hope “it’s not Nancy.”

Mr. Summers runs the Coal Company. He also “conducts” (1873) the lottery. Jackson reveals that Mr. Summers, “Had time and energy to devo te to civic duties” (1873). He has not children of his won, but he takes a fatherly tone and he conducts the lottery as if it were a game. He tells us about the history of the lottery, its icons, and how many alteration in its ritual have been made, recent ones to his advantage.

Presented as asocial historian, Old Man Warner rebukes change when Mr. Adams says, “They do say, that over in the north village they’re talking of giving up the lottery”. Mrs. Adams adds, “Some places have already quit lotteries” (1877). Old Man Warner replies, “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 to living in caves, nobody work an y more, live that way foe a while… There’s always been a lottery” ( 1877). He berates and castigates dissention as swiftly as a Gestapo
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