A Rose For Emily By William Faulkner And The Lottery By Shirley Jackson Essay

In society, the motives behind people partaking in violence and crime vary. Individuals may act for survival, peer pressure, religion, or even culture and tradition. Two short stories, A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, both portray tradition in their themes. By exploring violence, brutality, and death within these traditions, similarities and differences emerge between the two tales.

Both of the short stories are told from a 3rd person perspective—an outsider or townsperson looking into the lives of the protagonists. Rather than allowing the reader to experience the character’s thoughts and feelings, the authors let the stories unfold solely based on their plot development. This allows the reader to be a “fly on the wall,” and join the community in their gossip. Despite what an outsider may see externally, often times if one looks more closely, they will discover the truth. In A Rose for Emily, the townspeople thought that Miss Emily was hiding from society, but after looking more closely, they discover she was hiding the secret death of Homer Barron. Shirley Jackson spends a lot of time describing the setting of the town in The Lottery, ultimately creating a mood of normality and optimism under the overarching positive understanding of the story’s title. However, once looking more closely, the mood contrasts with the horror of the story’s ending when the town stones Tessie Hutchinson to death.

A Rose for Emily roughly takes place in the late 1800’s and although The Lottery takes place in an unnamed time period, both stories reflect similar views on society. Both stories depict the struggles that an individual or group encounters in order to avoid the loss of cultural or family traditions…

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…der. The fear of not knowing if you or a member of your family will live another year longer may create an inability to live life to the fullest.

In conclusion, both stories struggle with progressing with the advancements in society—Emily reflects this by locking herself and Homer’s corpse in her home all of those years, and the town in The Lottery reflects this by refusing to stray away from the stoning tradition despite other nearby towns eliminating the ritual. Miss Emily lived a lonely life due to her inability to adapt to the changing world around her and in contrast, the town in The Lottery is a community that is unwilling to accept change as a whole. This reluctant choice to change ultimately causes death and violence in both tales. This brutality and morbidity thus enhances the overall themes in the text and hold a lasting impression in the reader’s mind.

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