"Sensless Tradition"- - (on Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery")

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Many towns have traditions. Some traditions are easy to understand while the origins of other traditions are vague. In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", the village has an unusual tradition. The tradition is senseless and horrid, yet it continues. The people in the village had a tradition that occurred on the same day every year.

People are generally considered to be intelligent, yet some people seem extremely ignorant. Villages are made up of many types of people. The people in the village, where this lottery takes place, are controlled by a tradition. The villagers seem friendly towards each other. However, their friendship becomes fickle when the tradition of the lottery begins. A woman who was politely chatting with Tessie Hutchinson one minute turned and picked up a huge stone to hurl at her shortly thereafter. The children of this village continued the tradition by stuffing their pockets with stones.

They made piles of stones to be used at the completion of the lottery. The three hundred people in the village were able to throw stones at a fellow villager. Even Tessie's own young son had a stone in his hand. After throwing stones the villagers could go home to dinner and go back to work as if nothing had ever taken place in the Village Square. No one seems to have any qualms about throwing stones at someone for the sake of tradition.

When determining how to begin a tradition one would think some basic reasoning should be used. Every small town or village has a history that contains some type of tradition. The tradition in this village is called a lottery. Lotteries are usually considered lucky. This lottery is the exception. The lottery was a senseless tradition. Maybe it was started to give a feeling of empowerment...



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