“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is a classic story of a little town afraid of standing up to others. The whole town has been so set in a certain way that they are afraid of change, which in this case has deadly consequences.
On June 27 of every year, the little town gathers in an empty lot. This is where they select who will die for the good of the harvest. All the villagers are nervous when the ceremony begins. “The villagers kept their distance…and when Mr. Summers said ‘Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?’ there was a hesitation before two men…came forward to hold the box…” The villagers know that death comes with the box.
Also, the villagers are not completely supportive of the ritual. They will not even replace the fraying and scoffed up box that seems to exemplify the ritual itself. “Every year… Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything’s being done.” This makes one wonder if they would replace the box at all if it were to break and become unusable.
In addition, it seems that the driving force behind the ritual itself is Old Man Warner. Other villagers start talking about how other towns are thinking of stopping the lottery all together. Old Man Warner replies to this talk with a retort of “Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves…” He is unwilling to see past what he has always known and refuses to change.
All in all, Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” illustrates what can happen when people are reluctant to change. It shows that people need to stand up as a community and question what is right. If no one stands up to make a change, the lottery will continue to take the lives of many more people.