The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

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On the surface, Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” reads as a work of horror. There is a village that holds an annual lottery where the winner is stoned to death so the village and its people could prosper. Some underlying themes include: the idea that faith and tradition are often followed blindly, and those who veer away from tradition are met with punishment, as well as the idea of a herd mentality and bystander apathy. What the author manages to do successfully is that she actually uses the names of historical figures to add to the underlying themes of the story. Some names include the Puritan spiritual advisor Anne Hutchinson, who is banished for speaking out against Christian beliefs and traditions, the founder of…show more content…
The diffusion of responsibility led to a mass bystander apathy in which, “...[the villagers] discarded their own sense of responsibility, deceiving themselves into believing that other[s]...who allowed the misconduct knew better than they did about what was right” (Gandossy). They believed in their hearts that their tradition would lead to the prosperity of their lovelihoods and for that of their families. They would be “benefiting from the current way of doing things” (Gandossy).Also no authoritative figure like Mr. Summers or Mr. Graves spoke out against the lottery. As Robert Gandossy and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld state in their journal, ‘I see nothing, I hear nothing: Culture, Corruption, and Apathy,’ “It demonstrated the willingness of the adults to go to almost any extreme if they believed they were being directed or encouraged by a legitimate authority.” Unfortunately the villagers do not realize that they would be better off without the lottery. They follow a tradition whose parts have been long forgotten, and still carry out the most violent end result in the most barbaric way, death by stones. The people are very self-centered seeing as how they are so quick to turn on friends and family. Like Jay Moore states in ‘Behaviorism’, “A culture thrives when it teaches its members to be concerned about the welfare and ultimate survival of the
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