The Lottery: Symbolism

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 506
Topics: Book, Symbolism, The Lottery

For the vast majority of people, the word “lottery” brings to mind multimillion-dollar winnings, but for the villagers in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, this word evokes a sense of dread. The lottery is an old traditional village event that takes place every year on June 27 and begins as an apparently inoffensive activity. But as soon as the lottery process started, it became visible that the lottery is something that villagers are terrified of. The tradition of the lottery is so time-honored that no one in the village can recall its origins.

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The black box used for the lottery is already so unusable that it is starting to fall apart, but the villagers refuse to exchange it, most probably because of the stories that the box was made from pieces of the original box. The black box is the embodiment of the lottery itself and a symbol that all villagers instantly associate with the lottery. The fact that the color of the box is black can be regarded as a premonition, as black is typically associated with death. Although the villagers have forgotten the initial ritual and lost the original black box, they still remember how to use the stones.

The pile of stones, which the boys had made in advance, was ready, that is, there were stones on the ground, from which the pieces of paper that flew out of the box were blown away. The application of stones, as well as the black box, is one of the few inherited traditions that have survived to this day. Except for the lottery, the village seems to be a peculiar and civilized community. Stoning is a very harsh and outdated method, but it is nevertheless used by the villagers. The villagers do not hesitate to hurl stones at whomever the lot falls. Their primary vision turns into the image of cruel and merciless people capable of violence.

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Although the inhabitants have altered some old traditions, such as using pieces of paper instead of wood chips, they still adhere to their excessive method of sacrifice. Another striking symbol in this story is the lottery itself. It represents many outdated customs that people follow with unquestioning faith simply because the tradition has inevitably continued, no matter how strange it may be. “They do say,” Mr. Adams remarked to Old Man Warner, who was by his side, “that over in the north village they’re talking of giving up the lottery. ”

Old Man Warner wheezed. “Pack of crazy fools,” he said. “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 that way for a while…”. Some representatives of the younger generation in the neighboring villages began to doubt the tradition of the lottery and its necessity, just as some obsolete traditions in real life should be well-thought-out. The “Lottery” is a message that teaches us not to be blind slaves to tradition. If we are, the implications can be very dangerous.

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