Importance Of Luck In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson And The Rocking-Horse Winner

757 Words 4 Pages
We often associate winning with some amount of luck being had by said winner. But we don’t often think about the times when being the winner at something comes with a more unsavory prize. In the short stories “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D. H. Lawrence, both authors demonstrate a situation in which winning may not be the preferred option, and making it to the winner’s circle does not involve luck. And while luck is often the precursor to winning something amazing, the characters in each of these short stories won “prizes” that cannot be considered as lucky. Using crafty literary techniques and captivating storytelling, both Lawrence and Jackson reshape the idea of what it means to win and be lucky.
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To be perceived as “lucky,” you typically have had some good fortune come your way from a seemingly random or unlikely place. Yet, in Jackson’s story, winning the Lottery means a certain, painful death for the person whose name has been drawn, Tessie Hutchinson. The death was surely painful, as “A stone hit her on the side of the head.” (Jackson, page 7). This brutal death by stoning was an outcome known by all of the villagers, as is evidenced by their hesitation to being the “winner.” Their hesitation and their fear shows that luck is in no way associated with a name being pulled. To win the Lottery is to leave behind your life and loved ones. On the other side of luck, there is an element of the unknown. Whereas in “The Lottery” the villagers knew the outcome of the winner, thus negating any idea of luck, Paul in “The Rocking-Horse Winner” can not be identified as lucky due to the nature of his winnings. Paul is not simply lucky at guessing the winning horses at every derby race, but gains his answers by furiously …show more content…
In both stories, the true prizes are not revealed until the very end. Throughout the reading, the reader begins to get a sense that the winner may be faced with a less than ideal outcome. In “The Lottery,” Jackson uses vague language, negative tone, and narrative timing to push the reader into uneasy territory. While “The Rocking-Horse Winner” uses the mounting pressure of Paul trying to be good enough coupled with phrases such as “’You'll break your horse, Paul!’” (Lawrence). Both stories use this foreshadowing to their advantage, using the dark and vague tones to force the reader to ponder if everything is at it seems. This forces us to question the very nature of the ideas of luck and winning. Had the stories not been crafted they way they were, we may not have the same urge to question the usually straight-forward themes. The use of these literally tools helps to push us to the place where we must question the ideas that winning is tied to luck, just as the authors had

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