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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson sample essay

The central idea is the author’s implied comment on the subject of the story. In The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, the central idea being told in the story is the danger of blindly following tradition because of traditions mark on society. Tradition plays a huge role in our society; it provides reason for certain actions amongst a community without really ever having a reason to do something outrageous to begin with. Jackson points out our human flaws by creating a story which seems wrong and unlawful by many people so that people could see that they take part in pointless festivities backed up by their tradition. The story has its way of getting to your head, constantly leaving one with unanswered questions and looming thoughts behind the motif of this story.

In The Lottery, Jackson provides us with numerous amounts of details about the day of the lottery. The details are specific and play a huge part of the setting. In the first paragraph, Jackson describes the setting by giving us the date (June 27), time (about 10 a.m.), and temperature (warm). In this scene Jackson lists a couple of more important information such as the flowers and green grass, the town square, and the post office and bank. She even explains the specifics of the town, like how many people are living there, or which town neighbors this one, just so that we can see the difference between an older community who takes part in tradition, and a younger community who has forgotten the principles of tradition.

All of these details account for the setting which acts as a huge role in understanding the central idea. Because Jackson sets the story firmly in a specific time and place, the reader may suggest that she does this so that one could recount the tradition of the lottery. The story continues with specifics in detail and sharp images that tend to build suspense towards every oncoming sentence. Jackson paints a world so familiar to us, and then twists reality around when unusual punishment takes its place through pure violence and disturbing images.

More often than not, the setting supports the central idea of the story, so any changes in the story significantly alter the story. For instance, it’s hard to believe that something terrible could happen on a sunny day, but when tension rises, and someone has to go, a change in weather occurs as Mr. Summers lets the rest of the papers go with the breeze (a sudden wind pattern that wasn’t mentioned at all prior to this moment). Questions rise as to why many of the villagers left out many of the rituals of the tradition like the singing and the formal addressing of the people but did not forget about the most important part, the stoning.

Jackson makes it clear that all that was remembered about the tradition were the violent parts. All the other bits and pieces of the tradition were forgotten so that the villagers could embrace that secure moment of killing. It may seem harsh, but it truly portrays the fin bit of blindly following tradition. The villagers’ acceptance of the lottery has allowed for an annual event to take place, that for some reason, no one can change. The villagers’ are powerless in accepting change, although no one is forcing them from keeping with their tradition around. The villagers’ are aware of how bad this is, but the fact that it’s a tradition merely suggests that it will keep going on, and for no reason to.

In The Lottery, Old Man Warner suggests that it would be a foolish thing to do if they had stopped the lottery when he says,” Pack of crazy fools…listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live hat way for a while. Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There’s always been a lottery” (Jackson). And when he says, “There’s always been a lottery,” it is easy to conduct reasoning behind Jackson’s main point on loosely accepting tradition for what it is. For the villagers’, tradition is all the justification they need to continue on with their malicious actions.

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