Comparing The Lottery and What A Thought
The short stories I have chosen were "The Lottery" and "What A Thought" by
Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson is considered a morbid writer due to the fact that she
writes her stories with the intent to shock her readers into seeing the truth behind human
nature. Her work deals with an evil presence in everyday life. "The Lottery" is a chilling
tale of an everyday town and their annual lottery. It shows how cruel a town can be in
protecting their tradition and rituals and how not even friendship matters. The second,
being found in a collection of 50 short stories found after Jackson's death, shows how
quickly a wife of many years can turn on her husband without warning. Both stories
contained strong imagery and foreshadowing events leading up to the climax. "The
Lottery" was written shortly after World War II, however it is unknown as to when
Jackson wrote "What A Thought".
"The Lottery" and "What A Thought" follow Shirley Jackson's usual scheme of
shock value. Both stories show of how quickly, no matter what length of time people
have coincided together and bonded together, one can turn on another. "The Lottery"
showed of how a small everyday town will do anything to hold their traditional values.
The town believed that they had to make a human sacrifice to the land in order to have
good crops. Therefore every year they held a lottery to find out who the sacrifice would
be. In the story "What A Thought" a husband who would do absolutely anything to keep
his wife happy was brutally killed just because that is the way his wife felt on that day.
These are things that tie in with what the world is like today with mobs and riots to
murders of husbands.
The stories contain similar foreshadowing using different objects to show what is
to come. Both "The Lottery" and "What A Thought" contain an air of tension which show
that something bad is about to happen that the characters know about. "The Lottery" uses
the entire town whereas "What A Thought" uses the main character. Between the two
stories the object which is used to kill is not very different. Stones being used in "The
Lottery" are heavy and solid objects as well as the ashtray in "What A Thought". The
Box in "The Lottery" is black in color, the color of death. The Box would be the bringer
of death in that story due to the fact that it contained the papers which would determine
who was to be sacrificed. In "What A Thought" the ashtray, which contains ashes, which
is also a sign of death. These items and what they held...