The Lottery and Other Stories

Why everyone was so formal?

Why everyone was so formal and cordinal knowing that this event would lead to tragedy?

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Last updated by jill d #170087
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Regardless of how the day will end, for these townspeople, the lottery is an annual event. They don't seem bothered...... they're picnicing and gossiping..... they're playing and clustered together as families. As readers, we have no idea what's coming. This town seems like any other.

The problem here is that in the town, the random violence is not deemed unfair. If someone must be stoned, perhaps the random selection is the most fair method of doing something which could never be fair to the victim. Tradition and superstition (for it would be folly to try to stop engaging in the tradition) seem to make sense even if people cannot articulate why.

Thus, Jackson not only demonstrates the power of conformity, given that none of the townspeople protest or question the ritual, but also the human capacity for mindless brutality and evil. "The Lottery" takes the theme of conformity, as found in "Flower Garden," to its violent extreme. No one in the town is willing to voice the clear and rational opinion that the lottery is an inhumane exercise in pointless brutality. Old Man Warner dismisses the notion of discarding the lottery as preposterous. "'There's always been a lottery,' he added petulantly" (215). Even the young children, who are ordinarily exempt from Jackson's critical eye of suburbia and society at large, cheerfully attend the lottery and take part in the stoning of Tess Hutchinson. "The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles" (218). To the townspeople, the thought of dispensing with the tradition of the lottery is inconceivable, because they are too steeped in conformity to consider breaking tradition.