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anastasios-tampakis.net A forum to support provided projects Unanswered topics Active topics Search The team Lottery Discussion General Discussion ↳ News

Lottery discussion

2. Jackson’s story depicts an ancient fertility ritual inexplicably practiced in an American small town:
Each June, a townsperson is chosen to be sacrificed so that crops will grow. What concerns
Haugaard and Leo is the students’ nonjudgmentalism—their inability to object to the story’s central
action. While a woman is stoned to death by her husband and children, Haugaard’s students
refuse to condemn the ceremony. Questioned by Haugaard, one student would not oppose the practice,
explaining that it might be “a religion of long standing” (4). The student’s attempt at multicultural
understanding worries both Haugaard and Leo, who see in it a troubling moral relativism.
Haugaard likens it to another student’s diversity training, wherein hospital staff “are taught not to
judge” an action “if it is part of a person’s culture” (5). Leo worries that such “moral shrugging”
creates a generation “unwilling to oppose large moral horrors, including human sacrifice” (2).
At the same time, both Leo and Haugaard note that students are not too reluctant to express “oldfashioned
and rigorous moral criticism” on certain issues like smoking, environmentalism, and animal
rights (4, 6). In Haugaard’s and Leo’s view, the student readers of “The Lottery” swing between
cultural relativism and strident belief: As Leo explains, students hesitate to condemn egregious
evils if such acts reflect cultural mores (2), but they don’t hesitate to “say flatly that treating
humans as superior to dogs and rodents is immoral” (6). To Leo, students’ inability to experience
moral outrage about historical evils is evidence that they have lost their moral compass.

1. Leo opens his essay dramatically. As opposed to the neutral language of a dictionary entry, the
first paragraph presents a disturbing moral problem: Professor Robert Simon’s students
“acknowledge” the historical existence of the Holocaust, but they cannot condemn the genocide
(1). As one student explains, “Of course I dislike the Nazis . . . but who is to say they are
morally wrong?” (1) This opening example—of students unwilling or unable to condemn horrible
acts—is echoed throughout the essay. In an extended discussion of Shirley Jackson’s “The
Lottery,” a story about ritual sacrifice, Leo tells us that “a class discussion of human sacrifice
yielded no moral comments” (4). Leo’s purpose seems clear: He is outraged by the students’ lack
of moral outrage and wants to readers to share his shock and disbelief. Formal definitions would
blunt the essay’s impact, switching attention from the students’ disconcerting moral relativism to
the more cut and dry issue of definition. Leo wisely introduces definition only after the major
work of his essay—establishing protest, shock, and disbelief at students’ being “taught not to
judge” (5)—has been accomplished.

4. Leo pulls no punches in his discussion of absolutophobia. His aim is clear: to describe and condemn
the “growing problem” of nonjudgmentalism (2). In so doing, Leo does not hide his disdain.
He uses figurative language to cast the absolutophobia phenomenon in a most unfavorable light.
In paragraph 2, he describes students as “overdosing on nonjudgmentalism,” evoking the unsavory
world of drugs and addiction. He also describes multiculturalism as “spreading the vapors of nonjudgmentalism”
(5), calling to mind strong odors, pollution, and disease. As he discusses Kay
Haugaard’s experience in teaching “The Lottery,” he includes sarcastic asides and caustic descriptions.
When Haugaard states that the story’s “message about blind conformity always spoke to my
students’ sense of right and wrong” (4), Leo responds: “No longer, apparently” (4). He also makes
sure to include Haugaard’s dismissive description of one of her students as a “50-something redheaded
nurse” (5). Finally, Leo uses language emphasizing his own judgments and moral beliefs.
He calls absolutophobia both “moral shrugging” (6) and a “fashionable phobia” (7). All these
examples of loaded, highly charged language clearly underscore Leo’s belief that absolutophobia
does not merit respect.

Lottery discussion 2. Jackson’s story depicts an ancient fertility ritual inexplicably practiced in an American small town: Each June, a townsperson is chosen to be sacrificed so that crops will