In the short story The Lottery the residents of New England village gather as a family for a lottery. They have their old traditions which they observe and do not want to change anything. Although there were some changes in the rules of this tradition to have a lottery every year, these changes did not abolish the victimization of one of the villagers. The villagers decided to replace their wood chips with slips of paper which were more handy. All the participants of the action are united by their common goal.
The other very important thing is that the lottery acts as a “destructive element of the family bonds”¯. (Berger, 2006, para.3)
The author of the story wants her readers to see how the family can be ruined and how the relation of all the members of the family can be changed. The family members can easily revolt against one another in the story. The basic structure of the lottery is formed by the family ties. All the families who live in the village gather in the square, and all the family members must be present. Special lists with the names of heads of the families and households as well as the names of the household members are made. According to these lists, the members who will draw from the box will be chosen. Family relations play an important role in the lottery, but when the victim is chosen these family relations lose their importance.
For example, when Tessie has drawn the black spot her dear husband and her honey children turn against her together with other participants of the action. Family relations mean nothing when the lottery is over, each member of the family thinks only about himself, about his or her life but not about the life of the other family members. (Lenthem, 2007, p.3)
Sacrifice as the Main Element in the Literary Works
Sacrifice can be found in both literary works because the authors wanted to show their readers that sacrifice can be present in the life of all the people. However, the sacrifice showed in the first literary work is absolutely different from the sacrifice showed in the second story.
In The House on Mango Street Esperanza and her family sacrifice their dream house. They cannot allow themselves to buy a good house with all the modern conveniences and “with a great big yard and grass growing without a fence”¯, a house where they will feel “freedom”¯. They live in poverty as they are Mexican Americans. The life of immigrants in the United States was a difficult one. Race discrimination and unemployment were the major reasons which made Esperanza’s family to live in poverty in the house on Mango Street. Although Esperanza’s parents told her that this house was their temporary dwelling, the girl knew that this house and this street were permanent and that she should come to terms with it. (Mesic, 1984, p.4)
In The Lottery the villagers sacrifice their own lives and cannot change this old brutal tradition in their village.
The rules of the lottery cannot be disregarded. Mr. Summers, the chairman of the lottery follows the system of rules of the lottery inviolately. The murder at the end of the lottery is a normal and usual action for him. Nobody of the villagers can say the reason of the sacrifice, but they do not want to change the established rules. The lottery is “a symbol of terrible rituals in the human society”¯ which should be abolished. Human life cannot be sacrificed because human life is given by God and other people cannot have the power to kill it. (Lenthem, 2007. p.6)