Tessie Hutchinson In "The Lottery"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Tessie Hutchinson may not be meant as the metaphor for every human being; but she does represent the victim. She is chosen for this unciivil act just as a murder victim is chosen: at random. The difference lies with Tessie's attitude before and after she is selected as the "winner" of the lottery. Tessie questions the tradition and correctness of the lottery as well as her humble status as a wife. It might as well be this insubordination that leads to her selection by the lottery and lynching by the angry mob of villagers. It is human nature to cling on to the past. Unfortunately, clinging on to the past leaves no room for progress even when it is necessary.

The townspeople have made the bloody ritual a masquerade for their selfishness of wanting a scapegoat. Beneath all of the trappings of civilizations, man continues searching for scapegoats and thus their innate savagery shines though.

"This story comments upon the all-too-humantendency to seize upon a scapegoat and to visit upon the scapegoat the cruelties that most of us seem to have dammed up within us"(Brooks et al. 1995: 224). They give no care whatsoever: they are safe, thus they are happy, and so they laugh. It is safe to assume that only the victim would realize the inhumanity of the annual lottery drawing tradition. And that only because of their selfishness in wanting to survive, preferring someone else to die. In "The Lottery," fitting in to the village society means blindly following tradition and accepting the yearly lottery despite its horrible consequences. When people are used to being selfish, it is nearly impossible to better a community since no one is willing to sacrifice him or herself. While people like to imagine that they have surpassed their animal instincts, their inhumanity is apparent when they will gang up on a single individual using a lie to justify their slaughter. That lie being that the death of the singled out person would be for the good of all.

While we sympathize with Tessie upon the realization her fate, we must examine her attitude prior to knowing her fate. She was a willing participant until she was the chosen one. How often do we offer support until it turns against us? The US was the one who saw bin Laden's group as freedom fighters, and now they are terrorists. A greater introspection occurs when you are the one affected. Now, Tessie claims that there is injustice. " 'It isn't fair, it isn't right,' Mrs . Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her." (273). Tessie tries to get her daughter and son-in-law to be part of the final lottery. (272). This is not admirable. Have we acted like this though? Haven't we ever wanted the ill fated tragedy to happen to someone else. The Middle East is ramped with terrorism, but it takes our "winning the lottery" for the US to respond in the appropriate manner. Perhaps we all are a bit like Tessie and need to take a deep look into our value systems and belief structures.