Religious Tradition in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery Essay

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Religious Tradition in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

While 'The Lottery' is a fictitious story it can be argued that it mirrors the attitude of American culture in how it addresses religious tradition in its major holidays and celebrations.

Two of the biggest holidays in the United States are Christmas and Easter. Both of which are derived from Christian beliefs. Even though 'The Lottery' is apparently a pagan ritual, violent and horrific, it is appropriate, only by the fact that the participants no longer remember, or seem to care, what the original intent of the ritual or the significance of its traditions.

When we are introduced to the lottery, we see the traditions that are currently observed. These include
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Only when we are introduced to Old Man Warner, the only man in the village old enough to remember some of the traditions, do we get an idea of the purpose of the lottery. It seems to be a pagan harvest ritual, as expressed by his old saying: ??Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon?? (Jackson 369). By participating in the lottery the villages crops will prove to be bountiful. He justifies the use of the lottery simply by stating ?There?s always been a lottery? (Jackson 369).

Furthermore, Old Man Warner is horrified at the thought of ever stopping the lottery. When another villager speaks of other towns that have done away with the lottery he says, ?Pack of crazy fools? (Jackson 369),and ?Nothing but trouble in that? (Jackson 369)

Only two traditions survive from the original ritual: the drawing of lots by the head of the households and subsequent drawing of the chosen family, and the use of stones for the dastardly deed.

By using the heads of households in the initial round of the lottery, the blame could be passed off to him. The eldest men, and only the men were supposed to draw from the first round as expressed by ?Don?t you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?? (Jackson 368) and ?Glad to see your mother?s got a man to do it.? (Jackson 368) were responsible for their families and the man who drew the
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