The Lottery and the Role of Tradition


The lottery is a game in which people win prizes by matching numbers. Players pay a fee to enter the lottery and choose a series of numbers, either by hand or through machines that randomly select them. The odds of winning a prize are proportionate to the number of tickets purchased, and some people become addicted to gambling and are unable to stop spending money. In the United States, state lotteries are often regulated by public law. They can be a source of revenue for state governments and can fund many kinds of projects, including roads, libraries, churches, colleges, canals, bridges, and hospitals. In colonial America, a lottery was also used to finance the construction of schools and militias.

One of the most common arguments for introducing a lottery is that it would raise more money than a tax. While this is true, the fact that lottery revenue would come from a voluntary contribution by the participants rather than by taxes has never been able to overcome the fact that people do not like to be taxed for things they do not want to do. This has led to a variety of issues related to the lottery industry, such as the problem of compulsive gamblers and its alleged regressive effect on lower-income groups.

Another important point is the role of tradition in The Lottery. Old Man Warner is a prominent figure in the story who is an advocate of tradition and claims that following this tradition will result in plentiful crops. He does not give a specific reason why this is true, but he insists that the people in the village have always followed this tradition and that it has worked well in the past.

People in the village are blindly following traditions in this story and do not question their rationale for participating in such a ritual. This is a clear example of how adherence to tradition can lead to the dehumanization of people. The fact that the villagers stone Tessie Hutchinson to death after she reveals her ticket shows the brutal nature of humankind.

In The Lottery, Shirley Jackson depicts a village that has forgotten the real purpose of their lottery and ritual. They have no reason to continue doing it, but they do it out of habit and a sense of obligation to follow tradition. Eventually, these traditions will turn against them. This is a tragic tale that illustrates the need for individuals to think for themselves and not simply blindly follow the crowd. Those who are unable to do this may be swept away by a tide of violence and lose their lives because they cling to outdated traditions and beliefs. This is a lesson that we should all learn from.