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The Lottery - Throwing Stones at Tradition

            Traditions are long-established ways of thinking and acting that are passed down from generation to generation. Many of them form the basis for cultures and civilizations that are present today. Common examples of traditions are holidays such as Christmas or July 4th, as well as social norms such as greetings and compliments. These examples happen to be some of the less radical traditions across cultures, especially when compared to the tradition of drawing a sacrifice to be stoned in Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery." Jackson presents a small town that has a yearly lottery on June 27th, that determines which one of its inhabitants will be sacrificed. The head of each household is called up to draw a random slip of paper out of an old black box. Once each head has been called and someone draws a black dot on their paper, their entire family redraws. Tess of the Hutchinson family wins the final draw and protests about how unfair the lottery is as she faces her certain death. Jackson uses the characters within "The Lottery," to ask readers to question the fear and discomfort that comes with changing what is custom through foolish and outdated traditions in order to keep morals and ethics intact.
             The story demonstrates that most notable flawed logic that Jackson demonstrates in "The Lottery" over time is that traditions get dilute, with rituals changing and ultimately losing the meaning of the tradition itself. Within the lottery, since the tradition is so old, many parts of it have either been forgotten or forgone for newer alternatives. The narrator states "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 have been used for generations" (Jackson 626). Mr. Summers is able to change certain rules and policies of the lottery for the sake of progression and efficiency, like abandoning the wood chips for paper and the recital of the chant by the official of the lottery.

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