Traditionally Ignorant Essay

1102 words - 5 pages

Since the European encounter in the New World, questions regarding sacrificial rituals have interfered with ancient ceremonies. To the dominant culture’s worldview, rituals fulfill a psychological need, which give meaning and a purpose. Without these aspects religious ceremonies, such as a sacrifice ritual, may be misconstrued as ignorant or redundant. For example, although the tradition is mentioned in “The Lottery,” the meaning or purpose is not clarified. Thus, explains the negative reaction to the story, and the “abusive letters from people who did not want to understand” (Friedman 25). Despite the negative responses there are a few who say the story is understandable, if seen from ...view middle of the document...

The significance of the color coincides with the meaning of “[the] black box” that the Postmaster places on the stool, which symbolizes the lottery winner’s fate. The assurance of crops and the use of the color black are evidence that the stoning tradition mimics the Ancient Greeks’ pharmakos ritual.
Another society that shares the approach towards the stoning tradition is the Mexicas’ (Aztecs’) sacrifice to the Sun God. Author Kay Read claims that the Mexicas’ sacrifice ritual consists of placing a person on a slab, during which the “high priest cut[s] open the abdomen, extracts the beating heart,” thus raising the organ to the sun as an offering (Read 57). The appointing of the high priest is in relation to the postmaster’s role in the story, for both roles are to ensure the completion of the ritual. Following the sacrifice the priest “pushes the [corpse] down the steps of the pyramid,” to allow the spectators to mutilate the body for show or decoration within the warriors’ homes (Saunders 63). Community involvement of both the Mexicas and of the townspeople gives evidence that both societies possess the mindset that the tradition is a part of life, therefore customary. The stoning tradition and the Mexicas’ sacrifice to the Sun God are akin, because both require a human sacrifice, a higher up to see the tradition through, and the communities’ mindset that the sacrifice is a part of life.
The final society that mirrors the townspeople’s methods towards the stoning tradition is the Skidi Pawnees’ sacrifice to Morning Star. Ralph Linton, author and Assistant Curator of North American ethnology, speculates that every eleventh year, “in late spring or summer of the years when Mars [is] the morning star,” the Skidi Pawnees will sacrifice a maiden (Linton 8). In the story, the lottery is on “a full-summers day” which indicates that both traditions are during a particular season, thus related (Jackson 107). Another similarity is the preparation for the capture of the sacrifice. According to Skidi mythology, before obtaining the “powers necessary” to destroy the obstacles such as “sickness and troubles, a warrior is chosen through a dream or vision” from Morning Star, “demanding the capture of a maiden to sacrifice” (Linton 25). The sacrifice of the maiden to obtain powers is similar to that of the townspeople, for both traditions consist of killing a victim for powers to ensure survival of the community. The process taken towards the...

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