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The symbolism of the black box in the lottery by Shirley Jackson is very evident throughout the reading and interpretation of the book. The black box according to the author is defined as a container through which the villagers draws the required slips from the lottery and therefore as part of the tradition the black box has a very significant meaning to the villagers. The box is seen to be significantly worn and old but still, the villagers do not want or even intend to replace it and thus upsetting the tradition. And this greatly comes out that it is not even the first or the original box that was used to perform the traditional rituals and the author quotes "The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here". The quote tends to elaborate more on the reasons as to why the villagers see it difficult to replace the black box.
The black box in the lottery symbolizes death and this can be proved by the perception of people and the color of the box that generally symbolizes death or mourning in the western world. The author continues to explain that most of the villagers fear the black box because out of it comes death sentence that is really scary to most of the villagers. The author argues that when the black box is put on the stool for the ritualistic purposes then the villagers tend to fear and keep distance between themselves and the black box a symbol that it was more of a bad omen to the villagers.
The box is also used to symbolize superstitious rituals that have generally outlived its usefulness. This can be explained by the fact that the villagers now use the second box that has been made up using some /pieces of the old box and even the second box is starting to fall apart showing how the rituals and the community believed are shading away. The author quotes that the "The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained." All this description shows how outworn this kind of symbol ritual has been over the passing time.
The black box faded, rebuilt and stained symbolizes how the people will continue to hang on destructive rituals and practices for quite a long time before they could realize how useless the ritual is. The villagers have the ability to make a decision that can allow them to change any kind of central sacrifice that is symbolized by the box and come up with a more symbolic and a less destructive ritual that can have significant effect to the society. The story and the symbolism generally encourage us to take a keen look at what mindless rituals and destructive kinds of tradition that we might want to get rid of within the society.
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