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The Lottery... Rituals and Traditions

            The short story, The Lottery, written by Shirley Jackson contains two key aspects that society is based upon: Tradition and rituals, and social class division. These aspects mold the townspeoples’ views and beliefs towards continuing the lottery and upholding the tradition.
             Traditions and rituals are used for a variety of reasons. The townspeople believed that if they did not keep the tradition of the lottery alive, their crops would not prosper and it would distort the order of their town. Although they followed the tradition closely you can tell that the town is beginning to question the sanctity of the ritual. Some believe that the lottery should continue on while others disagree with the ritual but are afraid to oppose the tradition in fear that they will become the next “winner.” It does seem however that the tradition is slowly losing value to the townspeople. The black box symbolizes the towns fading belief in the tradition, each year they let the box deteriorate more and let the idea of replacing the box go unresolved. At one point Mr. And Mrs. Adams bring up that other towns are thinking about and already have given up the lottery. In response Old Man Warner replies, “ Pack of crazy fools, listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them… theres always been a lottery” (313). As quick as the idea of giving up the lottery was mentioned it was dismissed even more quickly. Thus the tradition is carried on for yet another year.
             Much like society today, the town was split up into different sects of social standing. The three men that were highest in power performed the lottery annualy; Mr. Martin owned the grocery store, Mr. Graves ran the post office, and Mr. Summers ran a successful coal company. On top of that they were also the wealthiest families in the town. These men were in charge of not only performing the lottery but keeping track of the black box, making the slips and event always takes place by the post office.