A Literary Analysis of the Lottery and Rocking Horse Winner

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Jeanine Smith
Literary Analysis Essay 2

A Literary Analysis of “The Lottery” and “Rocking Horse Winner”

Author Shirley Jackson published, “The Lottery”, a short story in 1948 in the New Yorker. The Lottery tells the story of a small town in America that ritually participates in a barbaric lottery. Famed author D. H. Lawrence published , “The Rocking-Horse Winner” in 1932, which is centered around a little boy who can predict winners of horse races. The theme of sacrifice plays a pivotal role in both stories. Each author forces us to examine the human condition and not blindly take part in rituals that harm the human race as a whole. These authors were able to imagine a place so similar to our own environment with ideals and occurrences vastly different from what anyone could have experienced. I find it a bit ironic that the winners of both stories partake in gambling and lose their lives as a result.

In The Lottery, Tessie Hutchinson takes the town’s yearly lottery very seriously. She leaves the house in a hurried state and guiltily slides into position with her family. Within a few minutes she is accosted by a mob screaming, “It’s not fair!” In Lawrence’s tale, “The Rocking-Horse Winner” the main character Paul is overcome with otherworldly forces that help him win riches but ultimately takes his life. The sacrifices of Tessie and Paul are similar because their deaths serve as the turning point or climax of each story. Without their deaths there would be no story, everyone would continue on with nothing changed. Tessie’s death was a sacrifice in turn for her four-year old son who almost pulled the pebble with the black X. The townspeople collectively breathed a sigh of relief when they realized they would not have to kill him. However, when Tessie was revealed to be the winner the mob turned on her and sacrificed her with no apparent meaning or significance. Her neighbors stoned her due to an unjust ritual whose origins no could...
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