In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the annual drawing in a small town serves as a stark reminder of the community’s collective behavior. But what stands out most is the character of Tessie Hutchinson and what she represents. Tessie symbolizes the human tendency to cling to tradition, even if it has questionable roots and devastating consequences. Her role in the story highlights the dangers of blindly following societal norms without questioning their morality.
Tessie is a seemingly ordinary woman who embodies the subconscious desires of the townspeople. She initially participates in the lottery with everyone else but quickly changes her tune when her name is drawn. Tessie’s transformation from a willing participant to a dissenting rebel is emblematic of how individuals can go against their own values for the sake of fitting in. Her character serves as a warning against the perils of identity being subsumed by the group, leading to the sacrifice of individuality, critical thinking, and free will.
As Jackson’s ominous narrative unfolds, Tessie becomes the sacrificial lamb, the victim of an archaic ritual. Her ultimate fate is the chilling reminder of the dangers of blindly following tradition. By closing their eyes to the sinister nature of their customs and values, the townspeople fail to realize that Tessie represents their own humanity. Her character stands as a stark warning of the insidious ways in which conformity and acquiescence to authority can corrupt.
Tessie’s Role as a Symbol in “The Lottery”
In Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” Tessie Hutchinson is much more than just a simple character – she is a powerful symbol representing several themes and ideas. Tessie’s role as a symbol in “The Lottery” can be analyzed through various subtopics, including her name, her actions, and her fate.
The Significance of Tessie’s Name
- Tessie’s name is not coincidental. It is derived from the name Theresa, which means “to harvest” or “to reap.” This ties in with the theme of the story, which centers around a traditional harvest ritual.
- Furthermore, the name Theresa is associated with Saint Theresa, a Catholic saint who endured several hardships, including visions of hell and an illness that led to her death. Tessie, like Saint Theresa, also endures a gruesome fate at the end of the story.
Tessie’s Actions as a Symbol
Tessie’s actions throughout “The Lottery” also hold symbolic significance. Initially, she appears to be a typical member of the community, chatting and joking with her fellow villagers as they gather for the lottery. However, as soon as her family is chosen for the second round, she begins to question the process and protests against the tradition.
Tessie’s questioning of the lottery can be seen as a criticism of blindly following tradition without examining its consequences. Her actions could also represent the power of the individual to resist oppressive systems or societal norms. However, her resistance is ultimately futile, and she is stoned to death, suggesting that the power of the community and tradition is stronger than the individual.
Tessie’s Fate and Symbolic Meanings
Tessie’s gruesome fate in “The Lottery” also holds symbolic meanings. Her death symbolizes the dangers of blindly adhering to tradition and the brutal nature of mob mentality. It also represents the ideas of sacrifice and scapegoating, as Tessie is singled out from the community and made to bear the burden of their collective sin.
|Symbolic Meanings of Tessie’s Death||Description|
|Sacrifice||Tessie’s death can be seen as a sacrifice to ensure a good harvest for the community.|
|Scapegoat||Tessie is made to bear the burden of the community’s guilt, a common technique used throughout history to alleviate social tensions.|
|Mob Mentality||The violent nature in which Tessie is stoned to death highlights the dangers of blindly following the group mentality.|
Overall, Tessie’s role as a symbol in “The Lottery” is multifaceted and complex. Her name, actions, and fate all represent different themes and ideas, from the dangers of blindly following tradition to the brutal nature of mob mentality.
Tessie’s significance in the larger context of the story’s themes
Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” has several underlying themes, and Tessie Hutchinson symbolizes many of them. Here, we will explore how Tessie’s character represents the themes of tradition, the danger of blindly following authority, and human sacrifice.
- Tradition: The Lottery takes place each year in the town. It is a long-standing tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. Tessie, however, is the only character to question the validity of the lottery. She voices her concerns about its fairness and even arrives late to the event, showing her reluctance to participate in the tradition. Tessie’s questioning attitude is a reflection of the changing society’s views on tradition and blind obedience to authority.
- The Danger of Blindly Following Authority: Tessie’s attitude and reactions to the events of the Lottery highlight the dangers of blindly following authority. Instead of thinking for themselves and asking why things are done in a particular way, the townspeople blindly follow the lottery without questioning its purpose. Tessie’s protests against the system indicate how people must become aware, question, and actively participate in decision-making processes to resist oppressive and totalitarian systems.
- Human Sacrifice: In ancient times, human sacrifice was a common and horrific practice. Tessie symbolizes human sacrifice in the Lottery, where her community condemns her to death, indicating the darker side of humanity’s capacity to arrange, promote, and justify acts of collective violence that serve as order-maintaining mechanisms.
Through Tessie’s character, Jackson presents an argument against blind obedience, collective violence, and the unquestioning acceptance of long-standing traditions. The story subverts the idea of communal reinforcement of social structures by re-contextualizing the sacrifices for the maintenance of an incomprehensible system that can be replaced with more just and humane ones.
Tessie’s Characterization and Role in the Narrative Arc
Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” is a masterful commentary on the nature of conformity and the dangers of blindly following tradition. At the heart of her story is Tessie Hutchinson, a seemingly ordinary woman who comes to represent the tragic consequences of groupthink and mob mentality. In this article, we will explore Tessie’s characterization and her role in the narrative arc of “The Lottery.”
- Tessie as the “Black Sheep” – From the outset, Jackson paints Tessie as an outsider in her tightly-knit community. While the other villagers seem content to participate in the annual lottery without question, Tessie is openly critical of the event. Her skepticism sets her apart from the group, and ultimately makes her a target for their wrath.
- Tessie’s Transformation – As the story progresses, we see Tessie shift from defiant skeptic to desperate victim. Despite her initial reluctance to draw from the black box, Tessie becomes increasingly frantic as she realizes the deadly consequences of her selection. Her final plea “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” is a poignant expression of betrayal and helplessness.
- Tessie as a Symbol – Perhaps the most significant role Tessie plays in the narrative is as a symbolic representation of the dangers of conformity. Jackson uses Tessie’s character to highlight the insidious nature of groupthink and the power of tradition to obscure morality and logic. By sacrificing Tessie, the villagers demonstrate their willingness to blindly follow tradition, even when it results in the unnecessary and brutal death of one of their own.
Ultimately, Tessie Hutchinson represents the price we pay for blindly following tradition and succumbing to groupthink. In her fate, we see the tragic consequences of sacrificing individuality and critical thinking on the altar of conformity. As readers, it is up to us to recognize the warning Jackson presents and strive to resist the pull of mindless conformity in our everyday lives.
Next, we will explore the broader narrative arc of Jackson’s story and its implications for our understanding of human nature.
The Symbolic Meaning of Tessie’s Name
In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Tessie Hutchinson’s name holds significant symbolic meaning. Here are four possible interpretations of the significance of her name:
- Destiny: Tessie’s name can be interpreted as a diminutive form of Theresa, which means “to reap” or “to harvest.” This suggests that Tessie is fated to be the one who is “harvested” in the lottery, as if it is her destiny to be sacrificed for the good of the community.
- Resistance: The name “Tessie” has a similar sound to the word “testy,” which means irritable or touchy. This implies that Tessie is resistant to the lottery and its traditions, as evidenced by her vocal objections and attempts to delay the proceedings on the day of the drawing.
- Insignificance: Tessie’s name is a common one, implying that she is just like any other person in the community. This reinforces the idea that the lottery is a random and arbitrary practice, and that anyone could be chosen to be the scapegoat.
- Childhood: The name Tessie has a playful and childlike quality, which contrasts sharply with the dark and violent nature of the lottery. This suggests that the tradition is childish and immature, and that the adults who have perpetuated it have not fully grown up.
Overall, Tessie’s name serves as a powerful symbol that adds depth and richness to the themes explored in “The Lottery.”
The Symbolic Meaning of Tessie’s Number
In addition to her name, Tessie’s number in the lottery drawing also holds symbolic meaning. She draws the number 364, which is one less than 365, the number of days in a year. This could be interpreted in a number of ways:
- Time: Tessie’s number suggests that she is on the verge of being “out of time,” as if her time in the community is almost up. This reinforces the idea that the lottery is a way of purging the community of those who are no longer needed or wanted.
- Imperfection: The number 364 is imperfect because it is not divisible by any prime number except for 2. This reflects the flawed and arbitrary nature of the lottery and its traditions, which are not based on reason or logic but on superstition and fear.
- Close Call: Tessie’s number is very close to being the winning number, which is 365. This creates a sense of suspense and tension, as it seems that she was almost spared from the violent fate that ultimately befalls her.
|Time||Tessie’s number suggests that she is on the verge of being “out of time,” as if her time in the community is almost up. This reinforces the idea that the lottery is a way of purging the community of those who are no longer needed or wanted.|
|Imperfection||The number 364 is imperfect because it is not divisible by any prime number except for 2. This reflects the flawed and arbitrary nature of the lottery and its traditions, which are not based on reason or logic but on superstition and fear.|
|Close Call||Tessie’s number is very close to being the winning number, which is 365. This creates a sense of suspense and tension, as it seems that she was almost spared from the violent fate that ultimately befalls her.|
These symbolic interpretations of Tessie’s number add to the complexity and richness of “The Lottery,” making it a thought-provoking and impactful literary work.
Tessie’s function as a representative of the lottery’s victims
Throughout Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, Tessie Hutchinson serves as a symbol of the victims of the town’s twisted tradition. In this section, we will explore the ways in which Tessie functions as a representative of these victims.
- Tessie symbolizes the unawareness of the victims – Throughout the story, Tessie is portrayed as being oblivious to the true nature of the lottery. She eagerly participates until her own name is drawn, at which point she protests loudly. Her lack of awareness mirrors the ignorance of the other villagers, who blindly follow the lottery tradition without questioning its morality.
- Tessie represents the powerless – As the only character who openly resists the lottery, Tessie represents those who are powerless to stand up to oppressive systems. She is met with aggression when she protests, indicating that those in power are more interested in maintaining their control over the village than in ethical considerations.
- Tessie signifies the randomness of persecution – The fact that Tessie is chosen as the victim for the lottery is entirely arbitrary, emphasizing the nonsensical nature of the tradition. She is the embodiment of the arbitrary persecution that could happen to anyone in a society that values conformity over individualism.
Ultimately, Tessie’s fate is a reminder that people in positions of power often have the ability to create traditions that can dehumanize and oppress others. Her status as a representative of the lottery’s victims allows the reader to recognize the universal themes of injustice and oppression that the story explores.
Tessie’s function as a symbol of the lottery’s victims is further emphasized by Jackson’s use of language in describing her. She is described as being “dubious” and “grumbling”, while the rest of the villagers are depicted in more positive language. This contrast highlights Tessie’s status as an outsider and underscores the idea of the individual being pitted against the larger group.
|Symbolism of Tessie Hutchinson in “The Lottery”||Examples from the story|
|Representative of the powerless||“I tell you it wasn’t fair. You didn’t give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that.”|
|Signifies the randomness of persecution||“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”|
|Symbolic of the ignorant victims||“But I didn’t take the paper out,” Mrs. Delacroix called, “I smiled at ’em and waved my hand. I wished ’em all luck.”|
In conclusion, Tessie Hutchinson’s character serves as a powerful symbol of victimhood in “The Lottery”, highlighting the dangers of conformity and the need for individuals to stand up against oppressive traditions.
Tessie’s Relationship to Tradition and Social Norms
In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Tessie Hutchinson is the protagonist who ultimately becomes the victim of the town’s horrific ritual. Tessie represents the rebellious, individualistic member of society who questions the status quo and challenges the long-held traditions and social norms of her community.
- Tessie’s questioning of the lottery’s procedures and her hesitation to fully participate in the event symbolize her defiance of tradition and social norms.
- As the only member of the community to voice her opposition to the lottery and openly criticize it, Tessie is seen as a threat to the stability and unity of the town.
- Despite being a part of the community’s culture for generations, Tessie’s willingness to question the lottery’s validity and her challenge to the town’s authority ultimately lead to her demise.
Tessie’s relationship to tradition and social norms is further demonstrated by her actions during the lottery. While other members of the community blindly follow the leadership’s directives, Tessie resists and questions the tradition of the lottery. Her actions symbolize the potential for individualism to upset the balance of tradition and ultimately lead to disaster.
|Tessie is late to the lottery||Her delay is interpreted by the town’s authorities as a reluctance to accept the tradition of the lottery.|
|Tessie talks back to Mr. Summers||Her challenge to the town’s authority is seen as a violation of social norms.|
|Tessie protests when her family is chosen||Her reaction to the lottery’s outcome is viewed as a rejection of the town’s tradition and a refusal to accept her fate.|
Tessie’s character represents the dangers of allowing individualism to challenge tradition and social norms. While her rebellion is understandable, her refusal to comply with the town’s cultural norms ultimately leads to her tragic death.
Tessie’s Resistance to the Town’s Institutionalized Violence
Tessie Hutchinson, the protagonist of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” symbolizes the individuals who resist oppression and fight for freedom. She represents the human desire for justice and equality in a world that sometimes seems rigged against them. Tessie’s resistance to the town’s institutionalized violence is a central theme of the story and highlights the dangers of blindly following tradition or authority without questioning their morality.
- Tessie questions the lottery’s fairness and justice, refusing to accept the town’s explanation for their annual ritual. She points out the inconsistencies and biases of the process, confronting the town’s leaders’ arrogance and hypocrisy.
- Tessie’s outspokenness, however, is not entirely motivated by a desire to change the status quo. Instead, she is only concerned with protecting herself and her family from the deadly consequences of the lottery.
- Even when Tessie realizes that she is the chosen victim, she continues to resist, challenging the town’s right to sacrifice her to appease an unknown force. She argues that the lottery is cruel and inhumane, seeking to change the minds of her fellow citizens to prevent future tragedies.
Tessie’s defiance and courage to stand up against oppression make her a powerful symbol of resistance. She embodies the human spirit’s tenacity to fight against tyranny, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Her refusal to accept injustice shows how individuals can work together to create a more just society.
The table below summarizes Tessie’s resistance to the town’s institutionalized violence:
|Tessie’s Actions||Tessie’s Motivations|
|Questions the lottery’s fairness and justice||Desires truth and transparency|
|Challenges the town’s right to sacrifice her||Advocates for human rights and dignity|
|Continues to resist even when chosen as the victim||Protects herself and her family from harm|
Overall, Tessie’s resistance to the town’s institutionalized violence in “The Lottery” highlights the importance of questioning authority and tradition to ensure a just and equitable society. Her actions remind us that we should not blindly accept the status quo, but rather challenge it if it perpetuates harm and violence against individuals or groups.
The contrast between Tessie and the other characters in the story
In “The Lottery,” Tessie Hutchinson symbolizes the scapegoat or sacrificial victim. She is the only character in the story who questioned the tradition of the lottery, and she is the only one who ends up being stoned to death by the other villagers. Tessie represents the instinctive human desire for self-preservation, while the other characters are willing to harm others in the name of tradition.
- The other characters in the story, such as Mr. Summers and Old Man Warner, represent blind adherence to tradition and the status quo. They are more concerned with preserving the ritual of the lottery than the value of human life.
- Tessie is the only character who voices any dissent in the story. She is hesitant to participate in the lottery, and her doubts make her stand out from the rest of the villagers.
- Even Tessie’s husband, Bill, is resigned to the fate of the lottery. He initially draws a slip of paper without concern for his own life or the life of his family members.
One of the most symbolic aspects of the story is the number eight. There are eight members in the Hutchinson family, and this number serves as a metaphor for their fate. According to some interpretations, eight symbolizes infinity and the cyclical nature of life and death.
The number eight may also represent Tessie’s role as an outcast or outsider. She is not native to the village and is viewed with suspicion by the other villagers. By having eight family members, Tessie is further isolated from the community and is more vulnerable to their violence.
|Symbolism of the Number Eight in “The Lottery”|
|Represents the cyclical nature of life and death|
|Symbolizes Tessie’s role as an outsider|
|Highlights the vulnerability of Tessie and her family|
In conclusion, Tessie Hutchinson symbolizes the tension between individualism and tradition in “The Lottery.” The contrast between her and the other characters underscores the blind adherence to tradition that can drive people to commit acts of violence and cruelty. The number eight serves as a powerful symbol in the story, representing the cyclical nature of life and death, Tessie’s isolation from the community, and the vulnerability of her family.
The role of Tessie’s family dynamic in the story’s events
Tessie Hutchinson, the protagonist of “The Lottery,” appears as a dutiful wife and mother who initially participates in the lottery tradition along with her family. However, as the lottery progresses, her true personality emerges – she becomes defensive, aggressive, and even manipulative. Tessie’s actions are influenced by the dynamics of her family, which hold significant symbolism in the story.
- Tessie’s husband, Bill Hutchinson, represents the patriarchal figure in the story. He shows little concern for his wife’s fate during the lottery, suggesting that she should “shut up” and “get it over with.”
- Tessie’s children, including her older sons and young daughter, symbolize the next generation that will inherit the cruel tradition of the lottery.
- Tessie’s in-laws, the Summers family, hold the power and control over the lottery. Mr. Summers, as the lottery official, holds the black lottery box that contains the papers with the town’s names.
One important symbol in the story is the number 9 that represents the number of members in Tessie’s family – implying the number of people who will potentially be the lottery’s victim. Tessie’s hysteria on realizing that she has the marked paper, “It’s not fair, it’s not right!” underlines the injustice and randomness of the tradition, which could have picked any other person.
|Tessie’s Family Members||Symbolism|
|Tessie Hutchinson||The victim of the lottery and a symbol of the potential for every person to be a victim of senseless violence or injustice.|
|Bill Hutchinson||The patriarchal figure who shows little concern for his wife and is resigned to the fate of the lottery.|
|The Children||Represent the next generation that will inherit the tradition of the lottery.|
|The Summers Family||Symbolize the people in power who control the lottery tradition.|
Tessie’s family dynamic influences the story’s events and highlights the theme of blindly following tradition without questioning its purpose or consequences. The symbolism of the number 9 and the Hutchinson family members emphasizes the injustice and brutality of the tradition and the need for individuals to take a stand against senseless violence and oppression.
The Impact of Tessie’s Death on the Town and Its People
When Tessie is chosen as the winner of the lottery, it seems that her fate is sealed. However, her eventual death has a profound impact on the townspeople and their collective psyche. Here are some ways in which Tessie’s death affected the town and its people:
- Shock and disbelief: Tessie’s death came as a surprise to many. Even though the lottery is an annual tradition, nobody expects to be the chosen one. Her death serves as a reminder that anything can happen in life, even if it seems improbable.
- Guilt and denial: Some of the townspeople feel guilty about participating in the lottery and indirectly causing Tessie’s death. Others deny their role in it and try to distance themselves from the event.
- Social ostracism: Tessie’s family is ostracized by the rest of the town after her death. This further emphasizes the divide between the lottery winner and the rest of the community.
Tessie’s death also sheds light on the dark underbelly of the town’s traditions and values. The lottery is supposed to bring good luck and harvest, but it actually causes harm and despair. Tessie’s sacrifice is a cautionary tale about blindly following tradition without questioning its meaning or purpose.
Here is a table that summarizes the impact of Tessie’s death on the town:
|Shock and disbelief||Many townspeople were surprised by Tessie’s death.|
|Guilt and denial||Some townspeople feel responsible for Tessie’s death, while others deny their role in it.|
|Social ostracism||Tessie’s family is shunned by the rest of the town after her death.|
|Revelation of dark side of tradition||Tessie’s death highlights the negative impact of blindly following tradition.|
Tessie’s death is a powerful symbol of sacrifice and the danger of blindly following tradition. It serves as a cautionary tale for individuals and communities alike to question the values and practices that they hold dear.
FAQs: What Does Tessie Symbolize in The Lottery?
1. Who is Tessie in The Lottery?
Tessie Hutchinson is a character in The Lottery, a short story by Shirley Jackson. She is a housewife and a mother of three children.
2. What does Tessie symbolize in the story?
Tessie symbolizes the victim of the blind obedience to tradition and the cruelty of the human nature. She is the scapegoat sacrificed for the sake of tradition.
3. How is Tessie’s character portrayed in the story?
Tessie’s character is portrayed as a typical small-town housewife who is excited to participate in the lottery until she becomes the selected one.
4. What is the significance of Tessie’s tardiness to the lottery?
Tessie’s tardiness to the lottery symbolizes her isolation from the community and her reluctance to conform to the established traditions.
5. What is the significance of Tessie’s protest against the lottery results?
Tessie’s protest against the lottery results reveals the absurdity of the tradition and the inhumanity of the majority who blindly follow it.
6. What is the symbolism of Tessie’s death?
Tessie’s death symbolizes the sacrifice of the innocent for the benefit of the community and the irrationality of the human nature.
7. How does Tessie’s death affect the reader?
Tessie’s death leaves a profound impact on the reader, serving as a reminder of the dangers of blind obedience to tradition and the importance of questioning the established norms.
Closing Thoughts: Thanks for Reading
Thank you for taking the time to read about what Tessie symbolizes in The Lottery. It’s essential to discuss the implications of blindly following traditions and the sacrifice of innocent lives for the sake of them. Our understanding of these themes helps us to examine our own lives and social conditioning and to think outside the box. We hope you visit again soon for more interesting insights!