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You Know Who

By s47016 Jan 11, 2011 1407 Words
The lottery
1. Where do you think "The Lottery" takes place? What purpose do you suppose the writer has in making this setting appear so familiar and ordinary? In Jackson's "The Lottery," the structure leading to the surprise ending is dependent on the detached(adj.分離的), matter-of-fact point of view, together with the familiar and ordinary setting.  The point is that the setting is ordinary.  These are normal people. The story is a scapegoat story.  And all societies scapegoat(n.代罪羔羊).  The point of the story would be lost if the setting wasn't familiar and ordinary.  The guilt would then lie with the particular setting and those particular people.  But back to the surprise ending.  If there were anything about the setting that was out of the ordinary or odd or eccentric(adj.古怪的), the surprise ending wouldn't come as such a surprise.  The structure of the story is as it has to be.  Finally, the reader is not told anything about where the story takes place.  Again, that is the point.  It could be anywhere, anytime. 2. in paragraphs 2 and 3, what details foreshadow the ending of the story?

That's a lot for one question, so here are some thoughts to get you started:

Paragraph 2 is about the children coming into the town square to be ready for the lottery drawing. Just recently released from school, they still feel the oppression(n.壓抑) of school rules and policies hanging over them; their conversations center around school-related topics and they remain quiet at first before getting rowdy(adj.喧鬧的). When the children begin to gather the stones, it is foreshadowing of the gruesome(adj.可怕的) scene to come. The story says, "Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones." This is just another reminder of the way that this town blindly follows examples of others, without questioning the intelligence of that example. Their hoarding(n.儲藏) of a big pile of stones seems like a game, but of course it speaks to their enthusiasm for a disgusting act of violence (we just won't know that until the end of the story when we see what the stones are used for).

Paragraph 3 describes the entrance of the adults onto the scene. They make small-talk with one another, as if it were just another day; but small differences in their mannerisms(n. 矯揉造作) show the significance of this particular day. For example, the story says, "They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed." They don't want to go too close to the stones, because they prefer not to think about the end result of today's activity. They make jokes in an effort to retain normalcy, but they cannot bring themselves to laugh out loud or to experience too much joy on this particular day. Though the children still behave as if the day were a game, the adults maintain a somber(adj. 憂鬱的) attitude throughout: "Bobby Martin ducked under his mother's grasping(adj. 緊緊抓住的) hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones. His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother." Families stick together, knowing that it might be the last time for any of them to be together as a whole.

3.

The lottery: (1) Barbaric tradition or practice. In this category in former times were slavery and human sacrifice practiced by the ancient Maya civilization that inhabitated modern-day Mexico and other Central American countries. In modern times, abortion, capital punisment, sadomasochism, cage-fighting, and dog-fighting are in this category. (2) Any foolhardy tradition that a community refuses to give up, such as the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. (3) Real-life lotteries and other forms of gambling that devastate human beings. (4) The risks of daily living, such as driving a car or flying on an airplane,  Black box: (1) Evil or death, suggested by the color of the box. (2) Outdated(adj. 過時的) tradition, suggested by this sentence: "The black box grew shabbier(adj. 破爛的) each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered(v. 使裂成碎片) badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained." Boys gathering stones and pebbles: Indoctrination or brainwashing that is passed on from one generation to the next. Old Man Warner: Anyone who warns others not to change; hidebound(n. 思想偏狹頑固的) traditionalist; Luddite(n. 強烈反對機械化或自動化的人); obstructionist(n. 蓄意阻撓者). Mr. Summers: The appearance of normalcy and cheerfulness hiding evil and corruption. Bill and Davy Hutchinson: Betrayers. The narrator says, "Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd." As for Davy, he has pebbles(n.小卵石) ready to throw at his mother. Hutchinson was the name of an official who lodged a complaint against several women in the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Mr. Graves: Bringer of death; any sinister(adj.惡意的) influence. Graves helps Joe Summers prepare the slips of paper that will send one of the residents to his or her grave. Graves also brings the stool on which the black box rests.  Village: That which appears normal and even benevolent but which harbors inner corruption and evil.  Mrs. Delacroix: In French, de means of and la croix means the cross. Mrs. Delacroix, who treats Tessie Hutchinson cordially(adv.友善地) when the latter arrives for the drawing, later picks up a huge stone to hurl at the condemned(adj.被判罪的) woman. One may say that she "double-crosses" Tessie by helping to "crucify(v.把...的手腳釘在十字架上處死)" her.  5. What do you make of Old Man Warners's saying "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon"? One of the themes of "The Lottery" was the adherence to tradition.  What Warner was saying was that because the town was adhering to the tradition of the lottery the town would have good luck in the coming year.  The people believed that the lottery was a direct influence on their prosperity.  "Corn be heavy soon," meant that the farmers in the community would have a good harvest and the community would continue to grow and prosper.  "Old Man Warner, the oldest man in the village, also represents the theme of tradition. When Mr. and Mrs. Adams suggest to Warner that some other villages have already given up the lottery or are thinking about doing so, he replies with, "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves . There's always been a lottery."

The ones who walk away from Omelas

6. In the story, do you find any implied criticism of our own society? Le Guin criticizes “a bad habit” that trickles down from the “pedants and sophisticates” (2), the classy intellectuals that teach us to celebrate pain over pleasure, violence over peace, and despair over delight. We are taught that “happiness [is] something rather stupid,” while the “banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain” (2) is replaced by fascination with death, deviance, and necromancy. A utopia is a backwards kingdom filled with happy, simple-minded subjects. In the real utopia, there are no careless princesses to be rescued by valiant princes, no arch-bishops to create the newest refinements to an oppressive religion, and no misguided soldiers to fight bloody wars in the name of freedom. You can be happy and peaceful without being a naïve, passionless simpleton. When we come to believe that “only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting,” we have come to “lose hold of everything else” (2). No technological wonders can provide happiness when our thinking is collectively flawed. “Joy built upon successful slaughter” will not do; we must be joyous like the citizens of Omelas, where “the victory they celebrate is that of life” (3), and not of death and suffering.

http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/2008/01/critical-analysis-omelas/ http://www.enotes.com/ones-who-walk-away-omelas

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