“The Lottery” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
After reading both short stories I was left feeling disgusted and cold. “The Lottery” left me with an overwhelming sense of astonishment and wonder, while “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” simply stunned me. Within the two literary pieces, I found that both of the authors wrote using distinguished themes, symbols, foreshadowing, irony, suspense, and many other literary device to aid their reader. Additionally, I would classify both works into the fictional genre of suspense, also known as thriller.
I fell more into Jackson’s work than O’Conner’s, and I think that was because there was a huge suspense factor within “The Lottery”; more than in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find. ” In fact, suspense was the first thing that caught my attention in the first reading. Jackson started off by setting the scene for the said “Lottery,” and I, right-off-the bat began to wonder to myself what the “winner” of the lottery was going to gain; little did I know there was no winner, but only an ultimate loser. Jackson continued to build suspense within the entire piece by suppressing the details of the village’s lottery until the very last line.
I was especially taken over by suspense as Mr. Summers went through the entire ritual step-by-step, and I was still dazed as to what the lottery “winner” was going to reveal. Because Jackson built such strong levels of suspense and opened up a sense of wonder in her reader, the conclusion of her short story was much more bold, shocking, and deplorable. Along with building of suspense, Jackson also used powerful foreshadowing to keep her reader engaged in the story. The main foreshadowing that she incorporated was within the character of Tessie, Mr. Hutchinson’s wife.
Firstly, Tessie arrives to the lottery late, after she has forgotten that it’s the 27th of the month in June as she does the daily dishes. Her late arrival immediately sets her apart from the other three hundred villagers in attendance of the lottery. In addition to just being late, Mr. Summers, the lottery conductor, calls Tessie out for being tardy in front of everyone, when he states “thought we were going to have to go on without you. ” This statement clearly foreshadows that something weird or negative may happen to Tessie later on in the story. Next, the theme that I found within “The Lottery” was the power of tradition.
The piece is a story of a village who knows nothing more than having a lottery on the 27th of every June, the members of the town are not concerned with the harshness or cruelness of their tradition, all they know is that when it happens each year, they have to be there. On top of them not caring about how disgusting it is, they have no reason to conduct this murder each year; the only reason is to be faithful to their tradition. I also noted a strong symbol within “The Lottery,” the black box containing the blank or dotted white sheets of paper that are used to conduct the lottery.
The black box represents the tradition of the lottery. The box is worn, torn and bet up after many hears of use, but the people of the village refuse to replace it because it is a part of the strong lottery tradition. This quotation from the fifth paragraph, “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box,” proves that the villagers are not going to accept the box being fixed, or accept a new box, simply because they take pride in every part of their village’s senseless ritual.
In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” I found the theme to be the vague description of “a good man. ” I thought this to be true because the grandmother deems every male character in the story to be a “good man,” but she never names the precedent for one to gain such a title. This is true in life as well, because people, women especially, always negate men if they are not “good” or “good enough”; but those people never set the standard as to what makes a man “good. ” Finally, in the second piece I found the grandmothers hat to symbolize her being a lady.
She is concerned with wearing the hat in the car so anyone that comes across them with know that she is ladylike. In the end of the story when she is close to the end of her life, the brim of her hat falls off, representing the end of her life as a lady. I was impressed with the writing of both of pieces, because of the suspense, but I was not particularly drawn to the topic or plot line of either “The Lottery,” or “A Good Man Is Hard to Find. ” I found both pieces to be a little on the weird side, but I am glad that I have been exposed to a new genre of literature.