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HCC ENGL 0100 - The Lottery

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Human Disposition in “The Lottery”Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" takes place in a remote village set in an unknown timeand place where the unfolding of a sacrificial ritual has become an annual tradition is followed. In the story, the people in this village are dominated by traditional culture and practice that today would be considered immoral and barbaric. Notably, the author creates an atmosphere in the story that presents this practice as a norm and is understood and welcomed by everyone required to participate. The story's ending comes as a twist where the victor of the lottery drawing's fate, predestined to die by their people's hands, including their family members. The lottery is a ritual for the people in this story. Jackson presents the idea that it is difficult for humans to detach themselves from the past. It has become an instinct for humans, resulting in fear for the unknown future and its consequences if changes are made. The character, Old Man Warner, is used by Jackson to portray this. Old Man Warner's presentation as a faithful believer of this ritual, and being the oldest in the village, has participated most in the story's lottery. The old man emphasizes that "we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns," which he referred to the villagers when some talked about the othertowns' idea of abandoning the ritual became a small topic. Old Man Warner's expression and use of specific foods' names explain his concerns on the new ideals of the younger generation that may alter the current tradition or its complete abolishment. He believes the ritual that has been taking place since the founding of the village, before his time, should continue the tradition because it has brought prosperity in cultivation since his participation, the past 70 years. Additional proof of his disapproval for any such idea of abolishing the practice is provided when he calls the people of other towns a "pack of young fools" when he learns that some of them have already stopped the tradition. Old Man Warner's desire to continuethe tradition has brought about a perception that being the oldest person in the village, he needs to convince the younger generation to continue the tradition. That this tradition is necessary for the prosperity of the village and for the future generations to follow. Ironically, Old Man Warner would also state, "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves…" which would show howprimitive in nature humans are. The author's use of Old Man Warner demonstrates humans' reluctance in detaching from the past and blindness towards any reform. At the end of the story, the author's portrayal of a twisted society is shown when the villager's response to the lottery's outcome was indifferent. It is shocking to see that the people in this story do not know this ritual's barbarity and refuses to change. What's then shown is the call to change the ritual aspectwhen a chosen person disagrees with the outcome. Mrs. Hutchinson was one such account when her husband picked the "winning" lottery stated, "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!". Everyone who is participating and knows its rules understands the outcome. It is apparent to them that a member of the Hutchinson family will die. Regardless of Mrs. Hutchinson's desire to change the outcome, "I tell you it wasn't fair. You didn't give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that." her husband would tell her to be quiet, showing his acceptance of the outcome. Other participants who looked to be friends with Mrs. Hutchinson, such as Mrs. Delacroix would say to her to "Be a good sport, Tessie," and from Mrs. Graves, "All of us took the same change." everyone expects Mrs. Hutchinson to accept the outcome and do her part. These statements show the malicious disposition that resides in all humans and that if it's not them, they are okay with harming others, whether they participated or not. It is expanded when it was revealed by the narrator stating that "Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones." That the villagers have the ability to make changes to the ritual. The point that "forgotten" and "remembered" is included in that sentence infers that the villagers have the power to make changes tothe practice or abolish it entirely. Instead, the villagers choose to continue the brutal aspect of the traditionand, instead, decide to change the methods used in the lottery by using slips of paper instead of wood chips because the change in the population's size made it difficult to fit everyone accounted for in the black box. Hence, the author's portrayal that human disposition is hostile and without morality is correct. Egotism is defined as the practice of excessively viewing oneself with an extreme sense of self-importance. Mrs. Hutchinson is portrayed in the story as an egotistical person due to the quick change ofattitude she showed during the lottery. In her arrival at the square where all the villagers are gathered, she showed a personality that was not worried and was able to make light conversations and laugh with Mrs. Delacroix after stating she forgot what day it was. This attitude was also shown to be in other villagers' who made jokes about Mrs. Hutchinson's late arrival, "Here comes your Mrs., Hutchinson," and "Bill, shemade it after all." The statements show that despite the horrifying knowledge of the lottery's outcome, it isa human tendency to disregard thoughts that would undermine the tradition and be viewed as someone who is against it. In the end, Mrs. Hutchinson was the winner of the lottery, and compare to the beginning of the event, her attitude completely changed. In desperation, she called for a recount, stating that it was unfair, expressing that the outcome is only acceptable to those who are not affected by it. The response of the result showed normality amongst the rest of the villagers. One such response came from Mr. Summers, who can be viewed as the delegate of the event but also a participant, stating, "All right folks, let's finish this quickly." The statement emphasizes all villagers' egotistical attitude that all is fine if it doesn't affect me, even though someone is killed. Shirley Jackson's use of the characters' reactions in the story highlights humanity's disposition towards life and change. It shows that even if it's against human


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