Books and Movies Reviews

The Lottery

Most of us obey every day without a thought. People follow company dress code, state and federal laws and the assumed rules of courtesy. Those who do disobey are usually frowned upon or possibly even reprimanded. But has it even occurred to you that in some cases, disobedience may be the better course to choose? In her speech “Group Minds,” Doris Lessing discusses these dangers of obedience, which are demonstrated in Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.”
In “The Lottery,” the villagers portray Lessing’s observation that “it is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissident opinion, as a member of a group” (334). The villagers also show, in a rather dramatic fashion, how being a blind follower of a group can be dangerous. As Lessing points out “the majority will continue to insist and after a period of exasperation the minority will fall into line”(334). This very sentiment is an enormous part of the inherent dangers of obeying a group.
The group behavior in “The Lottery” was certainly dangerous to all those involved. Aside from the obvious threat of the “winner” of the lottery being stoned to death; the general, and harmful opinion of this “group mind” can be summed up in the following passage:
Old Man Warner snorted. “Pack of crazy fools,” he said. “?nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves?. Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ ? There’s always been a lottery,” he added petulantly. “Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody.” (Jackson 387)
The lottery was village tradition, not to be questioned. Anyone who thought differently was scoffed at and taken for a fool. Certainly, if one is considered a fool simply for disagreeing with tradition, it presents those involved with the danger of impeding change. As a direct result of this group mentality, every year this otherwise friendly, ci…


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