The Lottery” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Short Story Assignment Sheet

Write an essay which contrasts OR compares the portrayal of motherhood in Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” and Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing”. Remember that you are arguing, trying to prove your thesis; therefore, you must support your argument (thesis statement) with concrete textual evidence, including sufficient quotes. You will cite each story once and have two entries on your Works Cited page.

Sample Outline

Thesis: Although “The Lottery” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” seem very similar on the surface, deeper analysis shows that they are truly a study in contrasts.

I. Intro
II. “The Lottery” demonstrates the use of random sacrifice.
A. Nobody knows the true history of the ritual or what it is for.
1. “the original paraphanalia for the lottery has been lost long ago” (238)
2. “at one time some people remembered there had been a recital of some sort” (239)
3. “first thing you know we’d all be eating stew with chickweed and acorns”
4. “there’s always been a lottery”
B. There is a complete willingness to participate; the people even seem excited.
1. “”guess we better get this over and started with so we can get back to work”
2. “Clear forgot what day it was”
3. “bobby warren had already stuffed his pockets full of stones and the other boys had followed his example”
4. “Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boy that came willingly up to the box”
III. In this story, although it appears any victim could be chosen, a female adult ends up dying.
A. Children as well as adults take their chances on death.
1. “Remember,” Mr. Summers said. “take the slips and keep them folded until each person has taken one. Harry, you help little Dave.” Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boy, who came willingly with him up to the box. “Take a paper out of the box, Davy.” Mr. Summers said. Davy put his hand into the box and laughed. “Take just one paper.” Mr. Summers said. “Harry, you hold it for him.” Mr. Graves took the child’s hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly.

B. Although there is a patriarchal system enforced, there is none of the protections for women and children that would be expected.
1. “Wife draws for her husband.” Mr. Summers said. “Don’t you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?”
2. Her husband says and does nothing as his wife is stoned to death.
a. “ Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her.”

4. In this ritual, there is a total absence of guilt.
A. The atmosphere is one of casual calm; nobody is upset about what is to happen.
1. “Soon the men began to gather. surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes”
2. ” ‘Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie.’ Mrs. Hutchinson said. grinning, ‘Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now, would you. Joe?,’ and soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson’s arrival.”

3. Nobody tries to shield the children from the horror of it.
a. ”Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones;

b. Even during the stoning, children are encouraged to participate.
1.“The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson few pebbles. “

III. ON THE OTHER HAND, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” depicts a society very specifically choosing a victim and sacrificing that life in exchange for what they deem a higher good in their society.
A. In this story everybody knows about the ritual and they are all aware of its purpose.
a. “they all know it has to be there”
b. “this is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve when they are capable of understanding”
c. “the terms are strict and absolute. There may not even be a kind word spoken to the child.
d. “If the child were brought up into the sunlight out of that vile place, if it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing, indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed.”

IV. Although most of the society accepts this sacrifice, they are bothered by the necessity of it.
A. “They feel anger, outrage, impotence, despite all the explanations. They would like to do something for the child”
B. “Often the young people go home in tears, or in a tearless rage, when they have seen the child and faced this terrible paradox.”

V. Unlike the villagers in the lottery, there are those in Omelas who are unwilling to participate in the victimization of the child, even if it means an uncertain future for them.

A. “These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas […]”
B. “ They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back”

VI. While both “The Lottery” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” describe sacrificing a single human as a way to enrich the lives of many, the stories part ways in terms of a sense of conscience. The villagers in “The Lottery” demonstrate the common face of evil while the people of Omelas show a greater complexity in their struggle to accept or reject their horrifying ritual.

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