The Importance Of Superstition In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

Decent Essays

Rabbi Bachya once said, “ The faith of the believer is not complete unless he knows the meaning and reason of belief.” “The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson, is about a town conducting a lottery, with one person who gets a “special” slip with a black dot getting stoned to death. The problem with this town is that they are cluelessly conducting the lottery, not knowing why the lottery first started, and making superstitions on what might be the purpose. Even Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, (currently 77 years old), does not know the purpose of the lottery, but instead just does it because it has been part of his lifestyle ever since he was born. In this town, a lottery is a superstition that eventually evolved into a pointless tradition. “The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson, was a superstition because the town was afraid that they would not receive enough food when the harvesting season arrives. This counts as a superstition as it may be considered “bad luck” if they do not conduct the lottery, similar to the superstitions today, such as “Walking under a ladder” or “A black cat crossing the street”. According to Old Man Warner on line 277, “ Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon…soon we’d all be back to eating stewed chickweed and acorns.” Consequently, this superstition evolved into blindly following tradition, as the majority of the population in the town were afraid of winning the lottery, not wanting to get stoned to death. If they considered it a religious tradition,

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