Comparing Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and O. Henry’s "A Municipal Report"

1830 WordsJul 11, 20188 Pages
The residents of a certain undisclosed town in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the nameless narrator found in O. Henry’s “A Municipal Report” are portrayed with completely different attributes by their respective creators. While Jackson introduces her readers to an “everyday” crowd of neighborly villagers in their preparation for a lottery, O. Henry presents his audience to a man who appears to be emotionally detached from society. Nevertheless, the outward appearances of the characters in these two texts utterly misrepresent who they truly are: the seemingly innocuous lottery in Jackson’s short story is in reality a gruesome gathering for the town’s annual stoning whereas O. Henry’s narrator is not as aloof as he portrays himself…show more content…
A much closer reading of “The Lottery,” for example, reveals that the men and women of the village are anything but “neighborly.” When Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, one of the town’s female residents, comes late to the assembly, she is, as expected, warmly greeted by one of her friends who are already at the square: . . . Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square, her sweater thrown over her shoulders, and slid into place in the back of the crowd. “Clean forgot what day it was,” she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly. “Thought my old man was out back stacking wood,” Mrs. Hutchinson went on, “and then I looked out the window and the kids were gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running.” She dried her hands on her apron, and Mrs. Delacroix said, “You’re in time, though. They’re still talking away up there.” (353-354) The relationship between Mrs. Hutchinson and Mrs. Delacroix appears to be genuinely affectionate and there is, for the time being, no reason to suspect anything insidious between these two women. Once again, the readers are lured by this deceptively idyllic portrayal of contemporary life in a remote village somewhere in America, and, hence, cannot sense the impending danger. As it turns out, the real purpose of the lottery is to

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