A Character Analysis of Old Man Warner in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

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The personality of Old Man Warner is constructed over the community’s unwillingness to abandon traditions at all costs. Shirley Jackson portrays Old Man Warner as an individual who has traditions instilled in him to a fault. Throughout the story, Old Man Warner is constantly at odds with the younger community members who start questioning the point of such a lottery. Jackson reveals through Old Man Warner’s personality that he is deeply traditional, resistant to change and is at times illogical and/or delusional.

Jackson’s description of the setting in The Lottery shows a town that relies heavily on the custom of having a yearly lottery. An example of reliance is how the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town (Jackson 391). This shows that Old Man Warner has been raised into believing that the lottery has a significant role in society. The town still dons the same box it has and is reluctant to change the box in fear of upsetting anyone. A prime example of this is: 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 (Jackson 391). This again shows how the past has affected the town’s beliefs, consequently having a major impact on Old Man Warner’s personality.

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Another personality trait of Old Man Warner is that he is illogical and/or delusional at times. Jackson shows this with Old Man Warner’s responses to the younger villagers wanting to abandon the lottery.

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