Value in Tradition: a Character Analysis on Old Man Warner from ‘the Lottery’

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The Lottery is a short story that revolves around a tradition kept by a small town, wherein they cast stones as a form of sacrifice to ensure good harvest. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation, but as time passed, its true purpose has been forgotten. Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, has witnessed and learned about the tradition for many years. He recognizes the lottery as a symbol of fertility, but he is disappointed that the younger generation has reduced it to a vicious death sentence. As the story progresses, he criticizes the younger generation’s misguided management of the ritual and expresses his pressing disappointment towards the change of views on the lottery. Overall, Old Man Warner is faithful to his traditions, but he realizes that traditions can take a different course as generations come and go.

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‘The Lottery’ tells the story of a tradition that has been upheld by a small town for many years: casting of stones as form of sacrifice. This is to guarantee good harvest throughout the year, and has been done through drawing lots. For many years, this tradition was upheld by the townspeople until slowly, as generations passed by, it has simply turned into an act of stone casting without fully realizing its purpose. This could be seen in the dialogues and implied beliefs of Old Man Warner towards his seventy-seventh time in the lottery. Old Man Warner was known for being the oldest man in town.

He was born before the black box was used in replacement of the original equipment for the lottery. Aside from that, he has learned and witnessed the tradition that is the lottery ahead of the younger generation given that the lottery, under the management of Mr. Summers, was his seventy-seventh lottery already. Being the oldest to have known the tradition, he respectfully recognizes the lottery as a symbol of fertility (‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon. ’). However, he was disappointed that, as generations have gone by, the purpose of the lottery reduced from being a symbol of fertility to a mere vicious death sentence.

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In a conversation with Mr. Adams, he criticized the younger generation as a “pack of crazy fools”. He believed that eventually, under Joe Summers’ misguided management of the ritual, the younger generation would live in seclusion, a life far less abundant than how people would value the lottery and live a life before. As the story progressed towards the climax, he commented how the ritual and the attitude of the people towards it is not the same anymore. Later, it was told that the townspeople have “forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box”, but “they still remembered to use stones. The only idea the people have in mind when it comes to the lottery is someone gets to die; the very purpose of the ritual was forgotten.

These express his pressing disappointment towards the change of views on the lottery. Throughout the course of the story, one could say that Old Man Warner is a man faithful to his traditions. He respects and recognizes the purpose of the lottery: celebrating prosperity. However, as seen in the later course of the story, the younger generation was misled. As generations come and go, traditions are often taken at a different course alongside.

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Value in Tradition: a Character Analysis on Old Man Warner from ‘the Lottery’. (2016, Dec 11). Retrieved from

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