Random thoughts, inconsistent posting
|I have loved “The Lottery” since I read it for English as a child, and it’s my favorite because it can start a flurry of conversation and dialogue.
I want to throw out some different things to think about. In my opinion this story is the epitome of Tradition vs. Doctrine. We all know or agree that it’s wrong to kill another human for reasons other than say the defense of your country or land. That’s another topic for another time, so let’s keep on track. Yet we follow other traditions without question at times. Most times they’re benign, we laugh and go along with them. The question a writer asks is: “What if?” what if a tradition becomes deadly? Hence THE LOTTERY.
This story is the precursor to THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT and others like them. Why do people follow a path laid out for them because their parents and grandparents, etc did it? Why do schools have traditions like HAZING yet we know it’s wrong and most times illegal. I can’t think of the name of the movie from a while ago, where a boy dies and the entire faculty cover it up. The movie maybe called SKULLS, but you get the point. Another movie in the same vein that’s my favorite, DEAD POETS SOCIETY. Challenging traditions make a great plot.
I don’t think Shirley, mistress of horror, intentionally wrote this as a horror story. I think she wrote for the same reasons English teachers made us read it. Conversation. When do we stop a tradition that has no purpose any more? When its purpose is to kill or separate society.
Some of you may be too young, but I remember a time when seeing a black person and white person as a couple were astonishing and something like the bearded lady at the circus. Tradition was broken and it’s no longer something to be shunned and hidden. We all know in the south that was cause for death. As a writer it’s our duty to challenge traditions. Like the HUNGER GAMES plot, ask WHAT IF?
What if the Christmas tradition of eating a turkey was in fact to kill and cook...…?
What if a child's first haircut wasn't kept as a memento but in fact was...…?
What if going to your first day of school meant your parents leaving you at the door and what happened that first day changed you for the rest of your life...Literally?
I challenge you to challenge others who’ve never read this story to read it and start a conversation. I also ask you to challenge others to write a story about a tradition many observe that might have a deadly ending. Like THE LOTTERY, you don’t have to explain the ending. Leave that to the reader. Who knows you may write another classic. As you see, I have a number of traditions that might become nasty plots.
Maybe someone would like to host a contest on this subject.
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