Themes of Tradition in The Lottery

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a short story about a village that objects to change. Once a year all the villagers go to the town square to participate in the Lottery. The Lottery begins with the official putting the papers in the black box for the heads of the families to draw from. He then calls the heads of the family up one by one to draw their paper from the box. Once every family receives a paper, they all open them and one family “gets it”. Then every person in that family draws a paper from the box and the person with the paper with the black dot on theirs, gets stoned to death. The Lottery uses many literary devices to show the theme but the most prominent literary device used to show the theme of how there is danger in blindly following tradition is symbols.

One symbol that helps support the theme of tradition is the black box. The black box represents how the village wants to keep tradition and also how they show their loyalty to the tradition. Every year Mr. Summers, the Lottery official, suggests on making a new box because the current one is starting to get old, the paint is chipped and faded and the box is nearly falling apart, but every year no one acknowledges his statements about the box and are unwilling to replace the old box. Also it was said that the current box, which is used in the lottery, was built with parts of the box that was previously used. The villagers want to pass down the box from generation to generation to keep up with the traditions of the lottery and no one wants to change them.

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The stones used to execute Tessie and the stoning itself is another symbol that helps support the theme of tradition. The use of stones shows how the tradition of the lottery has been past down from generation to generation because the story states, “[the villagers] still [remember] to use the stones.” Also this is significant because the first tools made by humans were constructed of stone, which shows how lo…