Traditions Aren’t Always Worth Keeping
On the morning of June 27th, a tiny town of about 300 people, meet in the town square for a tradition they call “the lottery. ” The kids come first to the square, straight from school, then come the fathers, and then the mothers after they finish the housework. They all stand waiting as they call the names of all the fathers in the families to the front to pull a wood chip from a black box, and the family with the black dot on their wood chip will participate in “the lottery.
” Each member of that family will draw a piece of paper hoping is doesn’t contain a black dot.Whoever gets that specific piece of paper will be stoned to death by the whole town. This intense story comes to life in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” written in 1948. This is a very trying story that has a huge impact on the town, and ends with a stoning. This small town has become accustomed to this tradition that will not be let go. After studying the story, Shirley Jackson presents the theme that, People are reluctant to reject outdated traditions, ideas, and/or practices. According to dictionary.
com, Traditions are beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally.These traditions are maintained usually by societies and government’s, and share history, customs, culture, the teaching of language, and sometimes education. Traditions are a part of our society today, and some traditions date back to past generations. Us as individuals may have our own traditions in our own family, usually being annual traditions. Government and city traditions are different that family traditions, in the way that, throughout the years traditions may need to be altered or changed depending on the times, as generation change. However, this doesn’t always happen. The lottery,” is a tradition in this town that is not even a thought when it comes to change.
Some people in the town feel that there was a reason this tradition was started, and it should be continued. It has caused a lot of tension and a lot of ideas on whether or not this tradition should be kept. Many people in the town feel this is a harsh way of exiling someone from the town, and feel it is very unnecessary. Traditions become a big part in this story and present the theme throughout the story. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny. . .
. . The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank around ten o’clock,” (Jackson 586).This passage that opens the short story presents the setting, but also shows the audience that the setting is a part of the tradition of “the lottery. ” Every year in June this routine of coming to the square to participate in “the lottery” becomes second nature to the town, and they soon realize that this is a tradition that will continue. Jackson not only discusses that the setting is a tradition, but also presents that even the materials that they use are traditions as well. The black box now resting on the stool had been put into use before Old Man Warner, the oldest ma in town, was born,” (587).
The box is the item that is used for the drawing, which by this point, as old as it is, needs to be remade. “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one like to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box,” (587). Traditions in this town will not be easily let go. This box does need some serious work, but Jackson goes on to say that they just tape it up and it’s ready to go for the next year.Cummings Study presents “This box is used as a symbol to present that this town is stubborn and doesn’t want to give up their traditions, even a simple item is something they can’t get rid of. Everything needs to be the original.
” Traditions are even kept in the process of performing the lottery. Mr. Summers, on of the main characters in the story and presides over the lottery states, “Now I’ll read the names- heads of the families first- and the men come up and take a paper out of the box.Keep the paper folded in your hand without looking at it until everyone has had a turn,” (589). This is the process of the lottery and it shows that even this hasn’t changed. Jackson goes on to say that the people of this town had heard this speech so much that they half listened. She also says that most of them were quiet and frustrated with what was about to happen.
“The lottery has become very frustrating to these people, and after so many years participating in the lottery is enough,” states Brothers Judd, a review of the story.So how many years has this been going on? Old Man Warner, a character in the story, says “Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery. Seventy Seventh time,” (590) which shows the audience that this tradition has gone on a long time. At the event there was even talk between two of the characters Old Man Warner and Mr. Adams on the fact that over in the North Village are talking about giving up the lottery, and Old Man Warner comes back and says “Pack of crazy fools. Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them.Next thing you know they’ll want to go back to living in caves, nobody work anymore, live that way for a while.
Used to be a saying ‘lottery in June, corn be heavy soon’. . . . . There’s always been a lottery,” (590). With strong feelings Old Man Warner shows that the lottery is here to stay and it always will be.
It is the town history and is part of their culture. The stubborn attitudes of some people in this story have caused a problem in this town when deciding on whether or not to keep the lottery. Jackson is trying to get across that even though this is an old tradition it needs to be kept around.Keeping these traditions are not always the best thing to do. Looking at America’s history, we had several traditions that we have had, that have had negative impacts such as, slavery, Salem Witch Trials, and Voting, that had they not been changed our country would not be where it is today. Some of the characters in the story realize that change is good and the traditions should be looked at more to see if this is actually worth keeping, while other characters don’t care what others think and are strict to following the tradition.Jackson shows the audience of the story that traditions are there for a reason, but also shows that change is always good.
People are reluctant to reject outdated traditions, ideas, and/or practices. We need to be open to new ideas. America has in its history and following the same traditions isn’t always right. Overall this was a great story and would defiantly recommend it. Jackson presents many more ideas than what I have mentioned and I think every reader should experience it themselves.