The first time I read "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, I thought it would be about someone in a desperate situation who wins a large amount of money. However, after reading the story I was shocked and disgusted like millions of other readers because of what the "lottery" was all about. After my shock wore off I thought about why the author had chosen to be so cynical. It occurred to me that she needed to shock people into changing for the better. She believed that the biggest problem in her society were the people who would live their lives without thinking about changing themselves for the better. She stresses the importance of questioning the validity of everything as opposed to conforming blindly to the majority.
She portrays her message best through the characters that actually voice their opinion against the lottery and the characters who respond to them. While those opposed are the voice of reason, they are dismissed by the majority in different ways throughout the story. Firstly we see Mr. Adams questions Old Man Warner about the validity of the lottery when he says, "over in the north village they " re talking of giving up the lottery." Old Man Warner, who represents the extreme right part of the majority, retorts with disgust and calls them a "pack of crazy fools." The next person to speak up is Mrs. Adams, who is defending her husband to Old Man Warner. She informs the old man that there are places that have already stopped conducting the lottery.
Once again, Old Man Warner answers that anyone who has stopped doing the lottery is simply crazy. He never explains why they are crazy, but never-the-less he believes it. Old Man Warner represents the opinion of the majority, and he also symbolizes the mentality of modern American society as well. The author uses him to represent the type of people that are so set in their ways that they refuse to consider or even acknowledge the other point of view. What is worse is that they don't even feel remorse when they really "see" that what they'd believed was awfully wrong.
The other obvious person to speak out against the lottery is Mrs. Hutchinson. As soon as her family was chosen, she became hysterical and only then did she speak up against the idea. However, at that time the people in the community were so relieved that their own families weren't the ones that were chosen, they wouldn't have listened to her anyway.
We clearly see this when Mrs. Delacroix replies to Mrs. Hutchinson's hysterics with," be a good sport, Tessie." Be a good sport? This clearly shows how they are so brainwashed by their culture and society that they can't even feel sorry for Mrs. Hutchinson before she will be viciously stoned to death! In this story Mrs. Hutchinson and Mr. and Mrs.
Adams represent the select few from their society who are willing to speak out against the dominant opinion. They are the voice of reason amidst the chaos of blind obedience. And because of them and people like them, hopefully some day the people will realize how ridiculous the lottery ever was.