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The Lottery

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Inhumanity Through Symbolism In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson "First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me." Pastor Martin Niem�ller's peom is about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to authority and the subsequent removal of the Nazi's selected oppositions. Niem�ller blamed the apathy of the intellectual community for the rise of the most evil regime in human history, responsible for one the largest instances of genocide ever. Inactivity of the same variety occurs in Shirley Jackson's, The Lottery, where a sadistic annual ritual is performed every year. A lottery takes place where the individual chosen is stoned to death to ensure a bountiful harvest for their village. This ritual takes place in a village with ordinary people, who like the Germans made no protests to their ventures of inhumanity and eventually became devoted to this depravity. In The Lottery, the misleading structure of the short story gives the impression that the lottery takes place in a sociable village by creating an ironically pleasant atmosphere, revealing the village's indifference. ...read more.


The description of the lottery, and the manner in which the villagers perform it is illustrated through the narrator's description of the event. The lottery is described as taking "less than two hours" (Jackson 293) to be performed and this "allows the villagers to get home for noon dinner"(Jackson 293). The procedures were habitual as the "people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions"(Jackson 297). This acclimatization to the proceedings of the event demonstrates their apathy as they are able to ignore the graveness of the event and prefer it to conclude quickly, not because of its repugnance but due to the fact that they would prefer if they could go home in time to eat, despite the repulsiveness of the act. They harbor no anxiety about the immorality of the tradition; they have grown so accustomed to it that they know the proceedings by heart. They are wholly indifferent to the lottery and will not speak out against it unless they are the ones deemed the sacrificial lamb. The sacrifice in this short story is Tessie Hutchinson who at the beginning was as apathetic as the rest of the citizens. Once she arrived to the town square she told her friend that she "clean forgot what day it was"(Jackson 296) ...read more.


This justification is not argued by anyone and as a result the malevolence was not stopped. In the short story The Lottery, the pitiless tradition that takes place in the gregarious village brings to light the dormant balefulness in humanity, that if fed by apathy towards immorality can become present in any individual. The effects of silence are evident in this story; no one wished to contradict the injustice of their tradition. They were merely bystanders that carelessly followed directions in a ritual. They, by ignoring the iniquity of their traditions, helped it flourish. A famous quote attributed to Edmund Burke says, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." The absences of action can itself be what decides the consequence of any condition, even the human one. Consequences are a complex part of human existence and its innate nature; they are the result of the decisions and the actions that are performed, or not performed. When a person does not act, then the consequences are as much a result of their apathy as they are the actions of their opposition. Consequences are the only genuine scale for right and wrong, good and evil, and an individual cannot afford to let their morals be compromised at the hands of stagnancy. ...read more.

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