Analysis of "The Lottery" and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"
The town gathers at the square for the lotter. This seems straightforward enough until Tessie Hutchinson protests the fairness of the lottery once her family’s name is drawn. Tessie is then chosen as the winner from her family. The town closes in and stones her, presumably until she dies. In Shirley Jackson’s narrative, Tessie’s death along with the other winners, pay the price for the village’s happiness. On the other hand, the city of Omelas is celebrating the summer festival. This city also exemplifies a utopia. The narrator reveals the one detail that secures the city’s happiness. There’s a child who lives beneath the city in his own excrement, is nearly arrived, and cannot leave. The people of the city are allowed to visit the child but never speak to it. The story ends when some people leave the city and never return after seeing the child.
The lottery is a darker tale of sacrifice for the sake of the harmonious functioning of the farm community but different with an underlying tale of the danger of blind faith. We scoff at the notion that people would sacrifice a person through lottery for the sake of a good harvest based on ancient beliefs yet millions of people today pray to gods they have never seen, rely on written scripture from a couple thousand years ago, and kill each other because those ancient tomes tell them to do so. Also, the problem with the idea of utopia is how to define it since one person’s vision will be significantly different than another. The city of Omelas was devoid of marital strife and they seemed to be able to do whatever feels good as a means to an end; but what was the end? Without benchmarks on which to measure achievement of morality they existed in a society lacking in ambition or purpose and in the end even their apparent empathy for the abused child failed them. The ones who walked away were not doing so in protest of the abused child; they were in contrast, classically ego centric and seeking even greater utopia.
For both “The Lottery” and “The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas,” the authors are deliberate about making theme the forerunner in the story. The theme, put simply, is utopia....