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Ancient Rituals: Good for one Thing, Bad for Another

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Ancient Rituals: Good for one thing, bad for another

Throughout history, ritual ceremonies have been practiced in many ways in different cultures for years and still in modern day today either if it's religious or just a way of life. In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", the author portrays a kind of ritual sacrifice practiced in a society through views of the topic with her characters. In the setting, the villagers of a small town gather together yearly every summer to participate in a lottery that their ancestors partook in where every family members name in the community is drawn from a box. Jackson illustrates the ancient ritual each individual takes part in through the use of setting, symbolism, and the explanation of the dangers of following ancient tradition.

The setting of the story takes place early morning on June 27. People of the town gather around together in the town square for the yearly lottery. Since the town only consists of 300 people, the lottery will finish a lot quicker than other towns which sometimes takes two days. The author describes the morning as "clear and sunny" (1) where the scenery was perfect for the day of the lottery. Jackson depicts the setting in an ironic way to give a sense of misunderstanding between the setting and the reality of the lottery that takes place. Where "the lottery is conducted as where the square dances, teen club, the Halloween program..." (3) depicts the positive description of the morning of the lottery confuses the reader and misinterprets the lottery as being positive but in certainty, the goal of the lottery is not in winning, it's losing.

Shirley Jackson's title "The Lottery" is a symbol of the ritual sacrifice the town participates in with many other symbols that follow. When referring to "The Lottery", automatically the reader thinks the lottery that takes place is a good thing and that each individual is hoping to be the "lucky" winner. The lottery has been taken place in the village for as long as anyone can remember and represents the behavior, action and idea that is passed down from one generation to the next that is accepted without question or reasoning. The lottery that is conducted every year is the tradition that is part of the town's culture. "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon." (4) The outcome of the lottery benefits the town as a whole to sacrifice one individual yearly to have good harvest in the fall. Each person is fully loyal to the lottery and the meaning behind it although some aspects have changed over the years, but still the lottery continues regardless. The result of this sacrificial tradition is that each person becomes a part of a murder trial annually. The lottery is an example of what can happen when traditions are followed for years that are not question from the beginning of the generation.

The lottery

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