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The Horrors Of Traditions In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

Decent Essays
The Traditions that Bind Us
“The Lottery” brings to light the horrors of rituals passed down from generation to generation that go unquestioned. Although, it is everyone’s desire to participate in society, the very questioning of such an important ritual would surely lead to the outcasting of citizens in this particular town. Despite having written, “The Lottery” in two hours Shirley Jackson is able to warn readers of the undeniable truth of blindly following orthodoxies that came before us without really understanding their nature or suspending tradition in favor of newer better ones by using symbols like The Stones, The Lottery, and the infamous Black Box.
The stones are the most hard hitting symbol in “The Lottery.” The use of stones are as old as the ritual itself, and represented in this quote as an ever omnipresent part of the tradition, “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones” (142). The reasoning behind the use of stones, like much of the lottery’s traditions, is left unknown to the reader. There is no known historical justification that is widely accepted/known amongst the townspeople yet they continue to participate in the ritual and systematically agree to murder one of their own. Even young boys are seen participating in the ritual gathering stones as if it’s some childish game, “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example,
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