The Theme Of Tradition In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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Henry James once said, “It takes an endless amount of history to make a little tradition.” In the short story, “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson deals with the insignificant nature of humanity when it comes to traditions. Today when one thinks about winning, one does not think about the community or close relatives; one thinks about how one is going to spend the money received. However, in Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” represents a human sacrifice by means of stoning with the entire village participating. The lottery is a symbol that explains the rituals, and traditions which drive the community. Throughout the story, tradition plays an important role in the villagers’ lives. Tradition can cause needless
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In the hands of both the old and the very young, the reader can determine that the lottery will continue to be an accepted tradition by future generations. For the villagers, the black box is very symbolic. Jackson states that “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.”1 The black box reveals how firmly rooted the villagers are in the lottery’s tradition and how threatening they find the idea of change. The villagers find no reason in keeping the box aside from the vague story about the box’s origins. It is falling apart and shabby in appearance and barely resembles a box, but the villagers take pride in the ritual of the lottery. The villagers believe that if the box is changed their fear of change will become a reality. The black box, where all the names are held and drawn from on the day of the lottery, symbolizes more than one aspect of tradition. For instance, the box shows how little tradition can mean to everyday life; during most of the year, it is simply stashed in a barn or "set on a shelf in the Martin grocery store and left there." However, on June 27th, the day of the lottery, it would seem to be the most important box ever made. It is stated that it is quite odd that even though no one knew the actual origin of the black box”, but the villagers were very reluctant to change what they saw as an essential part of the lottery
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