Striking Similarities in Different Contexts of Two Short Stories

Comparison paper Honors English When driving, two roads can be completely different. one possessing steep hills and sharp turns and the other being relatively flat in grade and strait in its direction. and still bring you to the same location. In literature, two stories can be written on completely different subjects. one containing a narrative of the murdering of a woman in contemporawAmerica by lottery and the other giving the chronicle ol torture in a mystical fairy-tale like society of an Innocent child.

both delivering your mind to the same final thoughts. This is the case for the two short stories The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin. These two stories are told in quite diflerent contexts; yet their theme of a single person taking on the burdens of society to allow the rest of the culture to live in happiness and the devices used to arrive at this theme are strikingly similar.

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Both of the stories begin With a Warming description of a beautiful summer day.

Fresh warmth, The flowers were blooming profusely and the grass was richly green (Jackson pg 1) in The Lottery is similar to Bright air..great water meadow..moss grown gardens under avenues of trees (Le Guin pgl) in The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. Both Stories contain congregation ot ioyful townspeople. In Omelas it is the Festival of summer with dancing in the streets. music. donning of special attire and great celebrations. Although less jovial in their gathering.

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the citizens in The Lottery all gather together with the children participating in play and the adults engaging in small talk. The maior similarity in these settings and descriptions lies in the fact that they both present fronts of pleasantness that create chaos in the readers mind after they are introduced to the brutally violent sacrifices, Although the exact reasons for the traditions are marginally different in each story they are both done for the continuance of their respective socreties. and they are both incredibly vtcious.

In The Lottery the person in which society lays its burdens upon is chosen each June by a drawmg of paper slips. The person that draws the only slip that does not posses blankness is then stoned to death by their entire town including their friends siblings significant others and children. In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas the yoke of the civilization IS laid upon a single child The child whether boy or girl. has been placed in a dark cellar since early childhood. and is besieged by constant malnutrition lack ol social contact. and the Ioulness of sitting in its own fecal matter to the point of retardation. The theme that is presented through enactments of these savage traditions is that one person must pay lor the utopia of the rest of society.

In Omelas it is made clearly evident that the sacrifice of the child is the hinge upon which the society swmgs They all understand their happiness. the beauty of their city. the tenderness of their friendships. the health of their children. the Wisdom of their scholars. the skill of their makers. even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their sky. depends wholly on this childs abominable misery (Le Guin pg6).

The Job of this child is to take upon itself. through its suffering. all of the evil in civilization. As stated in the story they did not war, they had few rules no monarchs and no inequality, Because of this their society functioned as a utopia. With the maiority living Iulfilled joyous lives knowing at the same time that the reason they lived wtthout evil was because of the single malicious act laid on one being.

In The Lottery this same thought of societys welfare depending on the suffering of another is displayed in the elder of the towns reaction to talk of doing away With the lottery. Next thing you know. theyll be wanting to go back to Iivtng in caves nobody work anymore. live that way for awhile. Used to be a saying about Lottery in June corn be heavy soon. First thing you know. wed all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns (Jackson pg4).

Although not as plainly stated as in the previous story. this cultures livelihood (which is known to the reader to be an agricultural one) also depends on the performing of this ritual, As stated in the before mentioned quote. Lottery in June. corn be heavy soon; the productivity of the harvest relies on the

action of the Lottery. Just as in Omelas the one person that takes the burden of society upon his or her shoulders by suffering, harnesses the misfortunes of society, allowmg them to thrive. Another relation to theme is also oddly similar in both of these stories; both stories have members of their respective societies that do not feel the sacrifice of humans is worth the benefits they receive in terms of their livelihood. They do not feel that the committing of one great evil is worth the trade off of prosperous life In Omelas these individuals are The ones who walk away from Omelas.

In The Lottery there are the people in other towns who are doing away with the Lottery. In reading The Lottery and Omelas one must pose themselves a question. In todays society what views do we hold towards people who are sacrificed for the good of the group? An initial reaction to this question might be the same one you got when you read these two stories; a feeling of disgust and a thought of how could we ever do this in our world?

But If you truly analyze the actions of western culture you Will see our society is many ways similar to the ones in the stories. For example, the working class of America work Jobs for the betterment of society that cause them to live in impoverished conditions and degraded lifestyles. This is what Jackson and Le Guin were making their statement about in their stories. They were saying something is wrong with what we are doing in society. They forced us to ask if we would walk away from Omelas (Davidson pgl).

The authors used their stories as societal and political weapons, demonstrating the pointless inhumanity in our society (Kosenko pgl). The theme of the sacrificing of a soul for the prosperity of the majority is peculiarly similar in both stories. Although these stories are told in different manners and set in different places. both societies perform atrocious rituals that lead to the so called betterment of society And both grasp our minds and cause us to think and pose a question, How different are the actions of our own society from the actions of the people in The Ones Who WalKAway From Omelas and The Lottery?

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Striking Similarities in Different Contexts of Two Short Stories. (2022, Jun 13). Retrieved from

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