The Lottery

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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In todays society we have to follow laws. These laws provide a moral foundation for people to act. When someone breaks a law they are punished for it, but what happens when all of a society breaks the law? Who is there to administer punishment? In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" all the townsfolk break a very serious law once a year. They all commit murder. Those people like the villagers who blindly follow society often participate in atrocious acts because they do no have to take responsibility for their actions.

Many people ignorantly follow society without regard for the outcome of their actions. The villagers who participate in the lottery are no different. Every June 27th all the villagers gather to hold the anual lottery. The villagers know the outcome will be the death of a member of their town, yet they have participated in it for years and years.

What would make the families of those who have died in the lottery want to continue to participate in such a terrible tradition? It could be superstition, Old Man Warner, who has been in the lottery for seventy-seven years, mentions an old saying "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon." This saying may shed some light onl the reason that they have the lottery, but for an entire society to participate in the stoning of one randomly chosen person merely for an old superstition seems very extreme. Another reason, and a more likely one, that the villagers still participate in they lottery could be as simple as peer pressure. In groups people are more persuasive, and if two hundred and seventy-five of the villagers want to continue the lottery and twenty-five oppose it, those twenty-five will soon be persuaded to participate after a verbal attack about tradition from...