Ms. Judith King
8 April 2009
The Similarities and Differences Between “The Lottery” and “Dead Man’s Path”
In the two short stories ”The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “Dead Men’s Path” by Chinua Achebe, tradition plays a part. In “The Lottery”, the villagers gather together once a year and meet in the square for a drawing to determine that year’s sacrifice. In “Dead Men’s Path” the story is about a pathway to a burial site that passes through the school grounds, which was closed off by Mr. Obi, the headmaster of the school who had a different religious belief than the villagers. “The Lottery” and “Dead Man’s Path” have a similarity in that they both have death in them. In “The lottery”, the idea is that the head of every family picks a piece of paper from the black box. If the piece of paper has a black dot on it, a member of the family is stoned to death. In “Dead Men’s Path”, the people of the village say that their dead relatives depart by the path and their ancestors visit them. It is also the path of children coming in to be born. So the people in the village believe that a village woman, who died two days after giving birth to her child, died because Mr. Obi blocked the burial pathway. The common theme of control is reflected in both of the stories. In “Dead Men’s Path” Mr. Obi blocks the path from the villagers to take control over them passing through the school compound, so that they wouldn’t destroy the beautiful garden with its hibiscus and allamanda hedges. In “The Lottery” Mr. Summer was a powerful, wealthy man who controlled and put all his energy to the activities in the town such as square dances and the Halloween programs. “The Lottery” and “Dead Man’s Path” have a major contrast in that a different belief system is what leads to death. In “The Lottery” the villagers believed that all had been well when the village was tiny and by performing the ritual of sacrificing a villager they would...