Dialectic Writing Entry
The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, is a short story about a village that backlashed against its yearly tradition: stoning a randomly drawn villiger. The short story begins by introducing the date: June 27th, where the setting is described as a clear and sunny day. Then the author introduces us to the history of the lottery, by describing it as a ritual that has taken place across many different villages, but from what the author tells us, there are only a few villages still practicing this tradition, and this village is one of them. This leads us into the story itself, where little boys collect smooth rocks in anticipation for the stoning that will take place later that day, while their parents talk about taxes and the weather. From there we are introduced to Mr. Summers, a man who dedicated his life to civic duty because of family related issues; he runs the lottery. While the original paraphernalia and rituals have been lost, the tradition of the lottery lives on, and each family is to draw from the black box. This black box contains papers, originally wood chips, and each paper is blank except for one which is marked by a black dot. From there each individual in the family draws a piece of paper, and the member with the black circle is stoned. But, characters in this story do seem to question this ritual, bringing up cases such as this being old, and other villages have ended the ritual. These concerns are shot down by the village elders claiming that, “(we’ll) go back to living in caves…” if the tradition is ended. Later on in the story, the girl who was late to the lottery, Tessie, draws the black circle and is sentenced to death. Surrounded by her neighbors, they stone her to death, but not before Tessie can shout out, “this isn’t fair.”
Tradition is the glue that helps hold society together. It allows us to connect with others, simply because they’re also taking 7 shots of tequila on the 4th of July. That being said, we need to be careful when it comes to following traditions; sometimes you’ll be doing more than just getting drunk. In the case of, The Lottery, their tradition was to stone an innocent villager for no reason other than their bad luck. This brings up an important moral question: was the lottery a collective act of murder? The key point to analyze would be their justification: tradition. For more than 70 years they’ve been conducting the lottery. Since then, they’ve lost the original black box, as well as the paraphernalia justifying the reasoning behind the lottery. And from what we know, they only questioned the tradition when it was June 27th, therefore suggesting that they were blindly following the tradition; they were not concerned with the consequences.
I personally believe that murder, or what the villagers would most likely describe as a sacrifice, demands a justification. For an example: the Aztecs sacrificed humans, but their justification was to appease the gods, hopefully leading into a bountiful harvest. Now morals are subjective, but if you are sacrificing a human for no reason other than tradition, it becomes murder. This is the case of the lottery, they blindly followed tradition leading them to murder Tessie. This collective act of murder is disgraceful in my eyes, and leads into what I believe was the author’s message: don’t blindly follow traditions.