Tradition Without Meaning In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

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In “The Lottery,” the author Shirley Jackson illustrates a vivid society that mocks the idea of tradition without meaning, establishing a clear theme that people should not blindly follow tradition that has lost its original intentions. She develops this idea through irony, symbols, and language. This message is conveyed throughout the story, from the initial pleasant description of the town to the surprise ending of the stoning. In the very first paragraph, she describes the setting as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day” (Jackson 31). This description establishes a positive overtone for the beginning of the story. Soon after, she supports this tone by describing the children innocently “stuff[ing] [their] pockets…show more content…
In fact, she makes this painfully clear when Tessie screams “‘it isn’t fair, it isn’t right’” (35). This shows that only once you have been chosen for stoning do you realize the cruelty of the tradition without its original meaning, but by then it is too late. Jackson further illustrates the loss of the tradition’s meaning through the black box from which slips are drawn. The box is described as “no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained” (31). Because this box is one of the few remnants of the original meaning, it symbolizes the deteriorating tradition in which only the final consequence of murder is remaining. The story even states that “because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations” (31). Thus, even Mr. Summers has made a realization that the town’s tradition is fading away and has been an active part of helping modernize
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