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The Lottery

by: Shirley Jackson

Old Man Warner

Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, has participated in seventy-seven lotteries and is a staunch advocate for keeping things exactly the way they are. He dismisses the towns and young people who have stopped having lotteries as “crazy fools,” and he is threatened by the idea of change. He believes, illogically, that the people who want to stop holding lotteries will soon want to live in caves, as though only the lottery keeps society stable. He also holds fast to what seems to be an old wives’ tale—“Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon”—and fears that if the lottery stops, the villagers will be forced to eat “chickweed and acorns.” Again, this idea suggests that stopping the lottery will lead to a return to a much earlier era, when people hunted and gathered for their food. These illogical, irrational fears reveal that Old Man Warner harbors a strong belief in superstition. He easily accepts the way things are because this is how they’ve always been, and he believes any change to the status quo will lead to disaster. This way of thinking shows how dangerous it is to follow tradition blindly, never questioning beliefs that are passed down from one generation to the next.