The lottery theme unites the books “The Lottery” and The Hunger Games. In Suzanne Collins’s book, the inhabitants of Panem were forced to participate in a survival game, with teenagers engaging in such a competition (Collins). Shirley Jackson’s story tells the story of the tradition of an American city throwing stones at one of its residents every year (Jackson). The lottery in both literary works appears as a symbol designed to demonstrate the problems of outdated but still dominant traditions in societies.
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The theme of the reaping is vital in both books; it reveals the idea of literary works. In Shirley Jackson’s work, the main focus was on showing the absurdity and barbarity of the rituals performed. Her goal was to show how easy it is to lead the crowd’s minds with the help of rituals. In turn, it was more important for Suzanne Collins to show that the traditions of society are political in nature. By convincing the townspeople that the customs prevailing in their country make sense, representatives of the state elite more effectively keep power in their hands. They succeed all the better when urban traditions strike terror into the city’s inhabitants.
Some of the characters in both books were unable to acknowledge the absurdity and cruelty of the lottery. It was until they had to be in the participants’ position. The crowd’s mentality is why the heroes do not realize the injustice of what is happening. They see how everyone around them accepts what is happening as something self-evident. The heroes of the books see what happens to those who do not want to play by the rules. Indeed, disagreement with the authorities will lead to severe punishment. If the heroes try to express an alternative point of view, then a conflict with fellow citizens cannot be avoided. For example, in “The Lottery,” Old Man Warner, as the representative of the conservative perspective, states that it is no good that the lottery will be canceled (Jackson). Often people quickly get used to the new order, and they do not even think about what such new rules bring in terms of freedom and happiness.
It is believed that the lottery is something that brings joy. Relatives, friends, and even strangers become envious of the lottery’s winners. However, American women writers are rethinking the concept of the lottery. In both works, it seems that winning the lottery equals death. In The Hunger Games, participation in the reaping was a tribute to the political elites of Panem. The only survivor among the other participants in the Games became the winner when the other eleven participants died. The policy of retaining power at the expense of fear is dangerous with the possibility of rebellion, as the Capitolians should have guessed.
The very essence of the lottery is in its unpredictability and uncontrollability. Therefore, when people allow such an unconscious process to control their fate, it, even more, convinces readers of how irrational what is happening in the stories being analyzed is. Although not always amenable to any logical analysis, traditions should not be aimed at killing people, as is the case in Shirley Jackson’s story. Perhaps earlier in this city, everything was arranged differently, and, accordingly, the essence of the lottery was different. This is evidenced by the image of the black box, which was formed on the basis of another, used when townspeople just appeared in the city. It symbolizes how traditions from year to year become more absurd and lose their original meaning.
It is common for many traditions to slip into something cruel and meaningless; for example, it applies to the tradition of celebrating a birthday. Children on this day want their dreams to come true, and for many adults, this day is another reason to get drunk to the point of unconsciousness. When the state begins to be ruled by such crazy things as lotteries and reapings, people also become crazy, which the authors wanted to inform readers about. In “The Lottery,” the townspeople felt worthy of deciding the fate of other people (Jackson). As in the Bible, they threw stones at their neighbor, who became a victim of the situation. In the modern world, it is impossible to imagine a situation where the state’s policy is carried out under irrational factors. However, one must not forget that the irrational is present in many spheres of people’s lives. Blind adherence to tradition and everything that defies logical explanation threatens a danger, as was demonstrated in the books analyzed.
The lottery theme was introduced into literary works to demonstrate the writers’ attitude towards the political sphere. The way the topic is revealed in the books determines the idea of the created works of literature. The writers criticize the conservative approach of political leaders based on adherence to outdated traditions. Collins and Jackson are also alien to the way of thought according to which the irrational is of greater importance than the rational. Both books prove the idea of the inadmissibility of the crowd to accept the injustice of what is happening in their city or state.
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Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games Trilogy. US, Scholastic Incorporated, 2011.
Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery and Other Stories. London, Penguin Books Limited, 2009.