Comparative Study of “Mending Wall” and “The Lottery”
Traditions bring people together for a purpose of handing down beliefs or customs from generation to generation. The tradition could be for a joyous purpose like Thanksgiving or Christmas, and even a sorrowful purpose like funerals or a date like September 11. In “Mending Wall” the tradition brought two neighbors together each year to repair any damage made to their fence. However, in “The Lottery” the tradition brings the whole town together to sacrifice one person drawn in the lottery in hopes of bringing a bountiful harvest. While many traditions are important to hold over, in some instances it is essential to abolish traditions that have outrun their time in this modern age. For instance there was a law to forbid people from carrying pliers that could cut a fence made in the old days when there was the open range in Texas. Now there is no open range in Texas therefore we do not need the law anymore. The speaker in “Mending Wall” used repairing the fence as a symbol of ridding old traditions while in The Lottery everyone kept up the tradition even though people showed fear.
In both “The Lottery” and ‘Mending Wall” there is some resistance to go along with the tradition each holds. In “Mending Wall” the speaker pokes fun at the neighbor by explaining there is no need for a wall, “There where it is we do not need the wall; He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple tree will never get across and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.” (lines 23-26). The speaker sees no purpose for the fence since it is only separating the trees. Likewise, in “The Lottery” there is a lot of uneasiness throughout the town leading up to the stoning of Tessie Hutchinson. In the beginning of “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson writes about the children , “ School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play…” (pg. 92). When one goes to school in the United States of America one learns about their rights as a citizen. The students in the story went to school and learned about these things and when it was time for the lottery many of them knew that there was something wrong about the lottery which gave them the feeling of uneasiness. Just like there is resistance to go along with the traditions in each piece of work there is also some conformity to go along with the tradition. For example at one point in “The Lottery” some people start talking about how the people of the north villages are doing away with the lottery. But they are quickly hushed by Old Man Warner who calls the northerners a bunch of crazy fools. Thomas Du Bose explains, “Old Man Warner, the embodiment of rigid tradition, seems to believe that the sacrifice is necessary to ensure sufficient food for the village, but the other villagers are maintaining practice out of habit and sheer inertia (2).Likewise, in “Mending Wall” the neighbors response to the speaker is always “Good fences make good neighbors” showing that he is going to carry out the tradition and knows no other way. More resistance against the tradition would be that Tessie Hutchinson is a rebel against the holding of the lottery. She shows up late to the lottery with an excuse that she forgot that it was the day for the lottery. How could she forget the one day in the year when someone will be getting stoned to death? Tessie Hutchinson in a way undermines and violates the rules of the lottery. When Bill Hutchinson draws the bad ticket Tessie begins ranting about how Bill was not given enough time to draw and how unfair the lottery was.
Although there were some similarities between “Mending Wall” and “The Lottery” there was also many differences between the two. In “Mending Wall” the tradition was only between two people who would get together once a year to fix the fence. While, in “The Lottery” the whole community was...
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