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“The Lottery” March 9 Blog

March 10th, 2011 by Patricia Nichtern

Within cultures lie certain values and traditions that are promoted to uphold the culture.  Much of what we know and believe is based upon what our culture has taught us.  “The way people act depends on their comprehension of reality, and that comprehension, since it can never be complete, is necessarily imbued with myths” (Tuan 98).  There are practices and beliefs that have originated in the past that sometimes, over time, lose their value and are lost.  Before these values are lost, however, people who do not uphold them might be subject to being an outcast of the society.    In “The Lottery” the people living in the village follow a tradition that they do not necessarily agree with solely because it is something their society has done for a long time.  The people appear to be nervous while trying to act normal and make small talk as if nothing is bothering them.  The people fear that if they publicly disagree or do not follow the tradition they will become outcasts.  When several people try to suggest that other towns no longer follow this barbaric tradition, one of the elders replies, “nothing but trouble in that” (Jackson 250).  The elder believes in the myth that something bad will happen if they discontinue this long lived tradition.  The people of the town are scared to tell their true opinions and go against their culture.  The space where the lottery took place is in a public place which was centrally located in the town.  It is also where they hold fun activities such as “square dances, the teenage club, (and) the Halloween program”; other traditions that this town has (Jackson 248).  The black box is put in the center of the square indicating that it is central to their culture similar to “anthropocentrism” that “puts man clearly at the center of the universe” (Tuan 91).  In the lottery the idea of mythical space is “the spatial component of a world view; a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities” (Tuan 86).  The draft of WWII, or the lottery, occurred several years prior to this the publishing of this short story.  People, in that time, believed that they were supposed to agree with the war and the draft because it was their duty to support their country.   Just as the people in this town believe that they are supposed to uphold this tradition as they uphold their culture.  In both of these instances, the people feared that if they disagree publicly that they will become outcasts of their society.

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