Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fishbowl #5: "The Lottery"

Afternoon, brilliant people.  Keep up the great thinking in our outer circle discussion.

A couple suggestions/ food for thought items today:

1.  In discussing Gothic elements, many of you have noticed the prevalence of the everyman.  In literature, the everyman is the nameless character that, by virtue of his or her identity's absence, becomes us.  Consider this in our last 2 stories.

2.  I would suggest avoiding hypothetical "what if" questions.  Be sure the prediction questions you pose can be answered in text and don't take us on tangents.

3.  With that in mind, continue to support your thinking in text.  Be sure your answers are, in fact, rooted in what the author suggests, not in our own assumptions.

4.  I challenge you to consider how the close-reading skill we talked about yesterday might play into our thinking and discussion today.  Use this as a forum for practice.

5. Provide the background that leads to your questions.  Rather than just throwing a question out there, provide the thought that came before it, when necessary.

Happy posting!

117 comments:

  1. Were there any connections to other texts that you noticed in this story?

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    1. It was similar to "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in relation to the description amount.

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    2. "The Hunger Games" kept coming to mind when reading this story. It reminded me of the "reaping" where one person was picked to essentially die where with this "lottery" the person picked died immediately.

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    3. I thought of the Hunger Games with the Reaping and the City of Embers because of the fact that they forgot about all of the tradition and didn't know why they were there.

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    4. I found some connections to "A Good Man is Hard to Find" because like Flannery O'Connor's story, I really didn't know what was going on at the beginning. Since the name "The Lottery" seems exciting and something that could reap prosperity, I was expecting something totally different. It was the same way in "A Good Man is Hard to Find". I didn't really know the darkness of the story till the very end, just like in this one too when Mrs. Hutchinson is stoned.

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    5. One of the connections that I noticed was the similarity between "The Lottery" and "The Hunger Games". The selection process was is where I drew that connection in that there is an air of anticipation. Everyone is eager and on edge when it comes to the lottery and it was like that in the Hunger Games; but the comparisons stop there.

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    6. I also saw a connection with "The Minister's Black Veil" in the style of writing Jackson employs. She, like Nathaniel Hawthorne, builds up slowly and steadily to the final climax; then she ends the story there. Unlike Hawthorne, she explains what the lottery is and what its purpose is; where as Hawthorne would be inclined not to explain what the lottery is and end the story before anyone started stoning her.

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    7. This story connected to A Good Man Is Hard to Find, just based of Tessie changed views on the tradition when she was the one picked, just like the Grandma did when the gun was held to her face in A Good Man is Hard to Find. It also connected to The Hunger Games for me just because it shows who is chose for life or death based of the chance of your name on a piece of paper, like at the reaping in the Hunger Games.

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  2. I like what Shannon is getting at and I want to hear the outer circle's thoughts! Why do you think the village continues with this lottery even when other villages around them have stopped?

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    1. When they were describing the box, it came up multiple times about how traditional it is. They could be too stuck on tradition to move into a less violent future. Class: How are we held back from the future by the traditions we hold?

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    2. I don't know if anybody else here is in Mr. Hawthorne's history class but we were talking about how the Mesopotamian Gods were angry Gods that would randomly punish the people so they lived in fear of drowning and being punished. I think that this village might have a fear of upsetting their angry God so they are afraid they will be punished if they do not stone somebody.

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    3. Everyone in this town is very stuck on tradition. It comes back to a very common fear/anxiety in people: the fear of change. No one wants to do something they are not sure about.

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    4. The lottery is continued not because it's useful anymore (if it ever was) but because it's the only way of life these people know. It's like how OCD causes people to revolve their lives are their rituals because if not, they believe that something bad (and completely irrational) will occur. This town believes that by stopping the lottery, it will also end life as they know it. While creating this change will probably benefit them, all they can focus on is the miniscule chance it will cause harm to them.

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    5. The story shows the primitive nature of Human kind. Reflecting on the moral views of the village is unhelpful because moral views are purely based on opinion, and to them continuing this barbaric tradition is morally correct. They continued the tradition based off the fact that some have done this there whole entire lives, and are unsure and unwilling to change, and consider change an act of stupid youthful rebellion.

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  3. Tessie Hutchinson would not have responded the same way and protested the lottery if her family had not been selected. What do you think this can show us about human nature?

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    1. We understand that bad things happen, but we don't know why it has to happen to us/ our family.

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    2. I think it shows how we as people often times don't care about what happens to other people as long as we are safe, happy, and wealthy. It's sad, but I definitely think it's true. If Mrs. Warner had been picked or someone else, I'm not sure Mrs. Hutchinson would have kept saying it 'wasn't fair'.

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    3. Great Point! The idea that humans really are self consumed is definitely the first thing that comes to mind. Although, if this was another family member of hers, she would have acted the way that she did. So I really think that personal and family ties is what holds the roots of human nature.

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    4. Hailey- I completely agree.I think it shows us that we may not have a problem with something until it happens to us.

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    5. It is a human instinct of self-preservation. Mrs. Leyden was talking today in swimming about how drowning people will kick and push down the lifeguard that is trying to save them. She didn't need to protest until she had no way out. In her normal mind, well normal for that society, she wouldn't have done anything desperate.

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    6. This shows that people are willing to participate in things like this lottery as long as it does not include them, because people do not like bad things to happen to them. It also shows that people struggle putting themselves in others' shoes, because if people understood what Tessie or other people before her in the lottery were going through, this tradition would probably not be continuing.

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    7. When something bad happens, but it doesn't directly effect us, we decide that it is not a big deal. If something directly effects us and our loved ones, we are not in favor of it at all, and protest, like Tessie Hutchinson did. To people in Colorado, shootings are a big deal, while to others around the US, it does not effect them as much and they don't care after awhile. That is a part of human nature.

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  4. One the fourth to last page, Old Man Warner says, "Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while. Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.'" Why does Old Man Warner want to keep the lottery so badly?

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    1. There are many reasons for him wanting the lottery to remain a tradition. One it is such a small town and they probably rely on tradition; it is what keeps them organized. And also they are afraid to change.

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    2. That's a good question, the only answer I can come up with is its his tradition. He was doing it his an entire life and he thinks its unfair that if they stop now he'll get the bad end of the stick compared to the children who only have to go through the lottery for only a few years.

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    3. I agree with you Emma! I also think that for him.....he has lived for 77 years without having the bad luck of drawing that dotted slip of paper. Maybe he wants it to continue because he feels like he's safe...if he hasn't been drawn now, why should his luck change? Maybe he enjoys stoning people....who knows. I just feel like it's a tradition that he's not willing to give up because it's not at his expense.

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    4. One thing that strikes me is that the start of this tradition, and the reasons behind it are never shared. On the last page it says,"Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box..." proving that the reasoning behind this uncanny practice has been lost. This is the only thing they know. Unlike other stories such as the Hunger Games, the society is not constantly reminded of the upbringing of this tradition. This has become their only way of living, it is natural to them.

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  5. Class- When do you think tradition becomes in some terms "inappropriate"?

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    1. I think tradition becomes inappropriate when people begin to follow it blindly. For example, when they have no idea of why they continue to follow it, it can become dangerous.

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    2. Tradition becomes inappropriate when the times change. Sometimes traditions change throughout history to go with the times but in this case it doesn't change and killing someone is wrong in this time period making this tradition inappropriate.

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    3. I agree with Baergen. As the times change, people try to cling to the familiar, their traditions. But when they become too desperate for the known, it is what keeps them from moving on to the future. Tradition is good in moderation.

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    4. I think a tradition becomes inappropriate when the times change (much like Alex said) but I also think when something that is meant to be taken metaphorically is taken seriously.

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    5. I do think this tradition is inappropriate but that is based on my morals and thoughts of what is right and wrong. For the townspeople, it is okay and accepted. So it's hard to tell if it is inappropriate or not because that decision would be based on morals.

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    6. I agree that this tradition is inappropriate but the society they are living in accepts this tradition. People are lighthearted at the lottery and everyone participates in the stoning. Maybe like with "A Good Man is Hard to Find" the people (like the grandmother) are set in their ways and because they are used to it, it is appropriate

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    7. Tradition becomes inappropriate when societies change, like Alex said, but because morals change with the times. It also becomes inappropriate when people do not know why it is a tradition, but it is and they are not willing to stop it. Like Shannon said, this tradition came about many centuries before and this town didn't know how it had even started, but they keep it alive.

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    8. Tradition becomes inappropriate at the same time that it becomes irrelevant. The people in this town can't remember anything about the tradition or the roots of the lottery yet they still choose to do it. That means that the tradition has no point and the people should have given in up as soon as they original box disappeared. The box disappearing is a symbol of the whole tradition falling apart.

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    9. Tradition becomes inappropriate the moment it restrains people from making personal and societal progress. The longer a tradition goes on, the harder it is to break and this town has been abiding by it for so long that its effects are detrimental not only to the victims, but to the other townspeople that are so concerned with the imminent threat of an early death that they can't even try to grow as people on the 364 days it does not occur.

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  6. Class- Going on with the idea that the tradition has been going on so long, how do we see examples of this in modern culture or religion or society as a wholeB

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    1. I have no idea why that B is there, pretend it's a question mark.

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    2. I think that we can relate this to many things in our society today. The lottery itself to me symbolizes really any idea that is passed down from generation to generation. Many views people have today against people who are different then them. Times have changed, but their viewpoints haven't.

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    3. I think specifically the lottery symbolizes traditions in the real world that yes, they are cultural traditions, but they harm people. For example (information courteous of Cassi, in Ethiopia, when a boy becomes 'of age', his sisters and female cousins have to be beaten for him. This is a tradition that has been going on for a long time, which I think is the reason why they don't discontinue it or change their tradition. However, it still physically pains people, so does that make it right or wrong? I think it's a fine line between tradition and your own personal opinion.

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    4. One "tradition" in modern culture is that we elect a president every four years. We are in this tradition and we are convinced that the election is a good thing (and I'm not saying it is bad) but maybe because it has gone on for so long, we would have a hard time giving up voting just like the society in the text might have a hard time giving up their tradition.

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    5. To go in a quite general direction, values of discrimination against other people for race, sexuality, religion (you can really insert anything) are "traditions" passed down in families based on former conflicts that may not even have affected living generations. For example, if there are two crime families who had conflicts in 1912, chances are that now, a hundred years later, there's still going to be bad blood between them.

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  7. Class: Unlike the other Gothic/Dark Romantic text that we have read, this story does not follow the usual host-guest and creepy house demeanor. Rather it holds a more Dystopian society. Why do you think the author took this approach?

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    1. Good point! He does this to get a bigger shock from his audience. If someone begins to write something which initially seems normal and sensible... then add it it's cruel/dark twist, the affect is so much more dramatic.

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    2. It causes surprise. If I hadn't started this story while it was part of our Gothic/Dark Romantic unit, I would have never suspected anything close to the ending that it did have. It makes you feel much more comfortable with their society, so the ending is more personal.

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    3. Many people are afraid of the future and Gothic texts are all about fear. Maybe this is Jackson's view of what the future could be like. Right now, we think this tradition is bad and cruel so we would never want this to be part of our future. It scares us to think that it could be a possibility.

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    4. Like Ruth said, the author does this for surprise. We talked in class about how the house and host are very connected, which lets the reader know for sure that this text is supposed to be dark, but this author took a different approach, and he wanted to use the element of surprise to support the uncanny and give his story a twist.

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    5. Great thoughts. Agreeing with Ruth and Julia, this technique helps to further familiarize the story in order to deliver the perfect twist.

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  8. I found it interesting that Tessie made such a big deal when her husband selected their family. Was she fearful for herself or for her family? Also, why do you think that her husband and everyone else let her go so easily?

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    1. Tessie was fearful for her family. As the mother in her family, she wants to take care of her husband and children, and doesn't want to see them die. She was fearful that someone she loved was going to die and she had no control over it. Her husband and the people in the town let her die so easily because they were relieved that it wasn't them. The lottery had also been apart of tradition for so long that no one wanted to go against the tradition.

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    2. It wasn't an issue of her fearing for herself or her family. She was afraid in general because this "lottery" had never struck so close to home before. She was used to watching these bad things happen to other people's families, not her own. They let her go because they knew there was no sense in fighting it. I imagine that in all the years they had done this, no one who's name was drawn lived.

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    3. Macy- What you said made me relate that to my peers. I think that it can easily be related to gossip today because people will fall into gossip because it is not them that people are talking about.

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    4. Nobody wants to die and that's why she was protesting. She knew she had a one in five chance of dieing and so did the other members in her family. She doesn't want to see anyone die and that's why she's protesting. Her family just let her go so easily because it was tradition and they knew they couldn't change all the minds of the town in such a short amount of time so they just gave up.

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    5. Baergen-I agree. That also connects back to your question above about how humans react when something bad happens to them directly, and how they react when something bad happens to others.

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    6. Kathleen- That is a really good question. In a society like the one being described in "The Lottery" family really must be the only consistant hope. But her family seems to be distant to the fact that they are loosing a member of the family, so I think this tradition has caused a barrier in the minds of the town to not hold emotion and family members too close.

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  9. Class- Does the "box" represent anything in our modern society?

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    1. The box seems to represent the unknown. The things that we can not fully understand, predict, or prepare for. Life is full of surprises. They are normal, but we tend to ignore their presence until they are upon us. Just like the lottery, until you are picked, it is just another thing that happens to others... just not you. But once you are picked, reality sets in.

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    2. Going off of Brooke, the fact that they bring up "The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along the one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained." goes with the fact that we ignore because it is old but until the little dot is on your paper, you don't really notice it or think much of it.

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  10. The author of this story set apart Tessie from her peers early in the story when she showed up late to the lottery and "forgot" what day it was. Do you think this was foreshadowing to her ultimate fate of being selected?

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    1. It shows that those who arrive late to life's judgement, like Brooke was saying earlier, or who are not prepared for it are the ones who end up biting the bullet.

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    2. Definitely! I wondered why she would include that if it had no importance...turns out she did have importance! I think it was odd how she showed up late, nonchalantly teasing her husband and saying she was washing the dishes. She obviously had no fears of getting picked, so I think it was sort of a surprise to me when she did.

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    3. I agree with that, it makes me wonder if this lottery was only to eliminate the misfits from society. What do you think?

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  11. Was the town thirsty for violence or were they just really loyal to an old tradition?

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    1. Both. Because it is such a small town they are probably old-fashioned so they want to follow tradition. But because they are such a small town everyone is really close which makes it easier to get angry or annoyed or have problems with other people in the town. So the lottery is a way for them to get some of their animosity out.

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    2. They were being loyal to an age old tradition. They don't know any other way to go about their lives. You could liken it to the holidays we celebrate today. For example, why do we go shopping after Thanksgiving? Because we don't know any other way. We, as a society, have been taught that the Friday after Thanksgiving is Black Friday and we don't question it. Yet, year after year we wake up early on Friday and go search for the insane deals that stores offer. You could look at it with any holiday really.

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  12. Black has been a reoccurring theme throughout the variety of Gothics we have read. Why do these Gothic writers choose the color black? And what are some of the other reoccurring themes we have seen throughout our reading of the Gothics?

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    1. In society, black has always been associated with bad and negative things. People believe many violent acts happen at night and night is black. Death is sad a awful so people wear black to funerals. Black being a negative color I think is a social norm that has been passed down from generation to generation. Black reflects fear and the unknown which is why the Gothic authors use it.

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    2. Black is a color that doesn't bring happiness to us. It's a symbol of fear and other negative ideas. The color black just helps add to negativity and feeling to the story. The stories are not happy so the authors choose not to use happy colors.

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    3. Great idea Michael! Black really imprints the idea of shadow and mystery of the future. We cannot see the future, so to set a color to it, black and darkness is all we are aware of. Think about it, the names in the box declare the FATE of individuals.

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    4. I think that the color black itself is negative because black is like darkness. Darkness is like lack of light, or knowledge and intelligence, and I think that's scary for everyone. I think that darkness also represents the unknown (you can't see stuff in the dark) and so I think that could also be a factor in why the Gothic authors use it so much.

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    5. Black is mysterious. It resembles the dark and we cannot see in the dark, which says a lot about humanity's fear of the unknown. Some other themes are the uncanny, of course, and town life.

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  13. I was thinking about how Christmas at one point was seen as a celebration for Christianity but now is more of about commercialism. What other examples of a tradition being warped over time?

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    1. What are other examples...
      Man, my grammar is off today.

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    2. Thanksgiving because it used to be a celebration of the pilgrims but now it is society's excuse to eat a lot.

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    3. Oooh I love this! I also think that even simple traditions such as saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day have lost their meaning. I know that when I say the Pledge of Allegiance, I hardly focus on it and kind of mumble the words, when in reality it was a traditional established to honor our country and the people who fought/are fighting for it.

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    5. Easter and Halloween are additional examples. Easter was originally a celebration of Christ's rising from the grave. And Halloween was, in the beginning, a demonic holiday. The Slavic people believed that the veil between the spiritual realm and the human one was thinner on that day. So they would dress up as someone else so the ghosts/spirits wouldn't find them.

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    6. You could argue that any holiday today has been warped over time as the media has gotten more involved. Media tends to make things more materialistic based, which is not always the intention of the holiday.

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    7. We can see many examples of this in several holidays! I would argue that holidays like Easter, Halloween,and 4th of July are all changed over time. Easter began as another religious holiday, and it still partially is, but there is also another side of commercialism and the just a day for families, instead of a religion. The 4th of July is supposed to celebrate the independence of our country, but many people use that day as a reason to barbecue or go to baseball games. Over time, many things get forgotten, and reasons become blurry.

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    8. Holidays in general, of any sort, have been commercialized because of the Industrial Revolution which focused on the consumers. That's also the time that Hallmark cards came out and began selling the idea of presents to everybody. People used to get socks as presents and be excited about it but now we expect fun things as presents.

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    9. The tradition of Halloween has been altered over the years from one of paying respect to the deceased to "Let's eat processed sugar and dress in ways that would otherwise be considered incredibly inappropriate."

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  14. Class - If you were part of this lottery and your loved one got chosen, what would you do?

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    1. I would try to protest but not at that moment. I know that I couldn't cause a revolution in a short amount of time but I would try to prevent future lotteries so no one else had to go through what I would've gone through.

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    2. It depends on how long you had lived in this society and if you knew a way out of it. If it were me personally and if I had grown up in the world I have, I would be furious. No one hurts my family. I won't stand for it.

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  15. The Boys in the village gathering stones was a hint for me on what was going to happen later in the story, and foreshadowing something dark going to happen. Did anyone else find any clues in the story that hinted on how it would end or take a deathly twist?

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    1. I didn't find anything that specifically hinted at the death but I noticed connections to books like The Hunger Games and the City of Embers that implied death. I realize that this was written before those books but they have very similar plots. For example, The Lottery is based in a town that focuses on the coal business, just like District 12.

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    2. I was a bit oblivious to how the story was going to end. The moment I knew something bad was going to happen was when Tessie started to freak out when her family had been picked. You would think that she would be happy that her family was going to win the "lottery", or the lottery that we know today, but when she reacted so oppositely, I saw that as foreshadowing to her death.

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    3. Going off of that- I was wondering as I read if the names (Graves specifically) were foreshadowing for what was to come.

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    4. The whole fact that the author didn't reveal the purpose of the lottery until the end puts us on the edge of our seat. One signal to me was on the first page when Mr. Summers asked people in the crowd for "a hand" there was hesitation before anyone went to help Mr. Summers carry out his duties.

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  16. Class: Alex brought up a good point. Does society have a natural blood lust? The author seems to be implying blood lust because she never outwardly explains the manifestation of this tradition. It just is.Or do they just go along with what has always been done?

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    1. Didn't finish the question! What drives someone to partake in violence?

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  17. I thought what was so disturbing about the lottery was how the "winner" was killed. Instead of just killing the person, all of the villagers including family, turn on and murder the victim themselves. Why do you think the author chose this method?

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    1. This method really hits heart strings. How would like it if your own sibling or child started stoning you? That is what the author is trying to get at, it wants you to question yourself in your relations to the text.

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    2. I think the neighbors killing their own friend was a lot more powerful and symbolic of today's society and how we rip each other down and care only about ourselves than if they just locked the 'winner' up and let them rot in jail or threw them in the river or something.

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    3. It makes it so much more devastating and surprising. Granted, being killed at random really is not a good thing either way, but the way that it is done is like being tortured by your peers.

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  18. In both of the Southern Gothic texts that we have read, the plot ends up with a murder (in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" it is the family and in this story it is Tessie). How does this reflect on the type of culture seen in the Southern Gothic text versus the Dark Romantics?

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    1. The Southern gothics end in murder while the Dark Romantics ends with a person becoming crazy, essentially murder to the brain.

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    2. In some cases, you can argue, it is better to be dead than trapped in your own body. Because of this, I think Southern Gothic texts are less scary than Dark Romantics.

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    3. This story help show the culture of Southern Gothics, by showing that a large influence in the story and in A Good Man is Hard to Find, is the impact of parental guidance and morals passed down.The views and acts of parents seem to play a role on how characters acts and how the moral views of the character form. this reflects on the culture as a whole. But in the Dark Romantics it left people to question peoples moral beliefs and sanity based of surroundings are events, rather then parents and culture.

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    4. Paige- I can see your point, but I found this Southern Gothic story scarier because it was everyone going along with it and killing people, where as only one person or a few went insane.

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  19. What is the significance of Mr. Summers wanting a new box to be made and the townspeople denying his suggestion each year?

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    1. Mr. Summers suggesting a new box every year and the townspeople denying the request shows that the townspeople don't want to change the traditions, while Mr. Summers wants to move forward.

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    2. This was brought up earlier but like Tessie was late to the lottery was seen as a rebellious move maybe getting a new box would make the lottery last longer. People might be trying to stop the lottery and they are getting ideas of stopping it so an old box might mean a sooner end to the lottery.

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  20. Why do you think that the town started this tradition in the first place? It doesn't kill a specific person and it doesn't exactly keep people in line. If anything, it just keeps people from having strong emotional ties. What is the point to this?

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    1. By having this one violent act each year the people have something to look forward to in a sense. They know that someone is going to get killed that year so that probably decreases other acts of violence during the year. It keeps the town safe and organized in a way.

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    2. Maybe its their way of learning to let go of the things that you love.... a dark way of character building.

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  21. Going along with what the inner circle is discussing, what role do children play in these creepy Gothic stories? We also see them in scary movies. Why?

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    1. Kids are innocent. Sweet. Or so they seem (I would beg to differ...:)But this furthers the familiarization of the story. This puts it into everyone's hearts, allowing the story to become a possibility in reality, rather than just a story.

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    2. Children are seen as innocent people and scary things come from the unknown. With children being unsuspecting they become the unknown because you wouldn't think they would be the cold blood killer.

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    3. I definitely think it's the uncanny again. Children are supposed to be innocent and adorable and harmless, but in these Gothic stories and scary movies, they are often brutal and harmful. It just creeps you out and kind of rattles something in you because your brain is saying, "No, no, this little boy can't be stoning his own mom. He's innocent."

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    4. The role that children play is that it adds to the "uncanniness" and the scare factor of the story. We view kids as innocent little people who don't really have a care in the world; but when these kids take on a role much more serious than themselves, like that of a killer, they lose their innocence and it adds to the scariness of the story. It is the writer pulling the proverbial rug out from under the reader; forcing us to exit our comfort zone.

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  22. Class- I have noticed this idea of "gossip" among the characters throughout these short stories. I think that gossip is a way to sort out what is not understandable in society. What are your views?

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    1. I definitely agree with that. When people are scared or unsure we like to talk to others about it to see if they share the same feeling. If they do, then we feel more comfortable.

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    2. Monica you always have the best ideas. I totally, totally agree with you.

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  23. Class- What's the difference between a holiday and a tradition? I don't mean holiday as in one day (Hanukkah is several days).

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    1. It's kind of like a square and a rectangle. In all that I know of, a holiday is always a tradition, but not always the other way around.

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