A Thematic Analysis of “the Lottery” and “Two Kinds”

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Amy Tan, a child of Chinese emigrants, was born in 1952 in Oakland, California. Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco, California in 1919. Today both women are recognized authors, known for incorporating personal or autobiographical information into their material. Both women, each known for classic literary works in her own right, have more in common than merely being born in California in the twentieth century. This analysis of “The Lottery” and “Two Kinds” will demonstrate how both short stories share similar themes, literary devices and writing styles.

According to Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz (2007), editors of Literature: The Human Experience, works with a theme of conformity and rebellion often "feature a clash between two well-articulated positions, in which a rebel, on principle, confronts and struggles with established authority" (p. 312). “The Lottery” and “Two Kinds” equally share the theme of conformity and rebellion and each contains a female protagonist who personally experiences rebellion and conformity in some form. In “The Lottery”, the entire village has confirmed to an antediluvian ritual stoning for more than 77 years; a ritual kept intact by the belief that a personal sacrifice will bless the village with a good crop harvest. Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, the protagonist, has participated in the village’s ritual wholeheartedly for years until her family is selected. Tessie immediately rebels against the lottery, claiming the drawing was unfair and attempting to add more people to her household in order to reduce her chances of being selected until she is stoned to death by her village. “The Lottery” illustrates the dangers of conforming to group thinking while the protagonist individually rebels against the group and the ritual once her life was at stake.

“Two Kinds” is a short story from “The Joy Luck Club”, Tan’s 1989 novel consisting of interconnected short stories detailing the theme of conformity and rebellion between...
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