The Importance of Tradition in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery


A lottery is a form of gambling in which people purchase tickets for a chance to win a prize. The prizes are usually cash or goods. The games are popular in many countries and have a long history. They are often used to raise funds for public projects. However, some critics argue that lottery proceeds may be better spent on other needs such as health care and education.

One of the main themes in Shirley Jackson’s short story is the importance of tradition and how much it can affect a person’s life. It is important to understand how traditions influence our lives and what effect they can have on the world around us. This analysis essay will explore the central theme of the story and how it is portrayed by Jackson.

The first recorded lotteries were held in the 15th century in the Low Countries, where town records indicate that they raised money for walls and town fortifications, and to help the poor. Lotteries became common in colonial America, even though Protestant church leaders strongly opposed gambling. The Massachusetts Bay Colony sanctioned its first lottery in 1745, and it played a crucial role in financing the settlement of Massachusetts. Lotteries also helped spread English culture into the United States.

People who play the lottery often think they are making a safe, low-risk investment by purchasing a ticket for a chance to win thousands or millions of dollars. But the reality is that they are contributing billions to government receipts that could have been used for education, health care, and retirement. Furthermore, those who play the lottery tend to be lower-income, less educated, nonwhite, and male, so they represent a disproportionate share of total state lottery revenues.

Gamblers, including lottery players, often covet money and the things it can buy. The Bible warns against covetousness, saying: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, his wife, his servant, his ox or his donkey, or anything that is his.” Nevertheless, some people believe that winning the lottery will solve all their problems and give them a better life. However, God’s word teaches that this is not true and that riches can be lost just as quickly as they are gained.

Some people feel that the entertainment value of playing the lottery outweighs the negative utilitarian cost and they choose to play it regularly. However, the disutility of monetary loss should be outweighed by the utility of the non-monetary benefits to make this choice a rational decision for each individual. This can be a hard task, especially for individuals who are in poverty and struggle to meet their basic needs. For these individuals, the lottery is a tempting way to avoid working and saving for their future. However, the pitfalls of this type of behavior can have serious consequences for their financial security and health. Therefore, lottery players should always play responsibly and only if they are in need of additional income. It’s also important to avoid impulsive spending, as this can lead to debt and bankruptcy.