The titles of the two fictional stories, ‘The Lottery’ and ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’, arouse a feeling of pleasure and enjoyment. Nevertheless, the endings in both stories are very different from what would be expected. ‘The Lottery’ is a short fictional piece that describes a small town that observes an annual lottery ritual as many other large and small communities in America (Jackson, 2016). This story has various themes that deal with victimization, the cruelty of human nature, and violence; while the main theme revolves around the danger of accepting actions blindly just because it is a tradition or a custom. On the other hand, ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ describes the juxtaposition of a young and generous boy named Paul and his greedy young mother named Hester who was unlucky and although she appeared successful outwardly, she was haunted by thoughts of failure and her unlucky husband (Lawrence, 2013). The main theme in this story is that love and materialism cannot coexist, suggesting that external sources of luck and money cannot give individuals happiness and that happiness should be intrinsic. While ‘The Lottery’ and ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ use symbols and similar tone to aid readers understand the important themes, both stories also have starkly different themes on love and the lack of love.
The authors in both ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ and ‘The Lottery’ use symbols in depicting and conveying the stories’ central messages. In ‘The Lottery’, the author utilizes the symbol of a black box to depict the connection between the townspeople and the lottery tradition. While this black box was not the one used originally for the lottery and was worn and old, it was not fixed or replaced despite the fact that most old traditions in the town had been left behind (Jackson, 2016). The villagers followed the old lottery tradition every summer without questioning its relevance or importance and even though most of the lottery’s old paraphernalia was lost and most customs had been adapted to the needs of a developing town, the townspeople showed no interest in giving up lotteries. Indeed, this black box did not have any other purpose for the townspeople for the remaining part of the year. In turn, the author in ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ uses the symbol of a rocking horse and a whispering house to expound on the story’s theme that greed will not help individuals achieve much in life. When Paul and the rest of the children receive guests that are not affordable for their family, they can hear the house whispering that more money must be available (Lawrence, 2013).
Another similarity between both stories is that the authors use a deceptive and ironic tone. In ‘The Lottery’, the author uses a deceptive tone to make everything in the town appear well. For instance, the women gather before the lottery and gossip with each other, while the children are waiting for the start of the summer holidays eagerly and the men talk about their work on the farms (Jackson, 2016). From the tone set by the author, the reader does not expect the story’s ending where there is a ritualistic stoning since the entire context of the event appears friendly and nonchalant. In short, the story’s readers are deceived by the author’s tone. Similarly, the author in ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ uses a deceptive and ironic tone with statements about Hester’s attractiveness and how she appeared to be well off. However, this depiction of Hester cannot be considered at face value because as the story unfolds, the reader discovers that Hester s a greedy and unsuccessful woman (Lawrence, 2013). The deceptive tone in the story’s beginning gives way to a sympathetic tone where the author begins to narrate Paul’s story. As the readers follow Paul’s gradual deterioration, they feel bad for him and his tragic ending.
One major difference between the two stories is how the authors tackle the theme of love. In the ‘Lottery’, the author expounds on the theme of a lack of love from the villagers, especially with regard to the ritualistic stoning. The townspeople follow their customs blindly without question, with Mrs. Hutchinson not even trying to escape the stoning and instead only arguing that selecting her was unfair (Jackson, 2016). Because of lack of compassion and love for each other, the villager were willing to give up most customs related to the lottery while keeping the lottery, defending their practice by arguing that there had always been a lottery. On the other hand, ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ deals with the theme of love. Indeed, Paul loves Hester and is desperate to show his mother that he is lucky, which he believed would make his mother show more love towards him. Paul becomes angry when Hester is skeptical about his luck; giving all is earnings to Hester as he believed he would make more money from betting (Lawrence, 2013). Paul rides his horse to death so as to make his mother love him.
In conclusion, both ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ and ‘The Lottery’ use symbolism to expound on the main themes in the stories. In this case, ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ uses the rocking horse and the whispering house as symbols to show the futility of greed and the importance of luck and realizing that happiness should be intrinsic. Further, both authors use a deceptive tone to set the ground for a plot twist which shocks the reader. However, both authors tackle the theme of love from two different perspectives, with ‘The Lottery’ depicting the complete lack of love in the small town and ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ depicting a young man’s search for his mother’s love and compassion.
- Jackson, S. (2016). The lottery. New York, NY: HarperPerennial Classics.
- Lawrence, D. H. (2013). The rocking-horse winner: Short story. Toronto, Ontario: HarperPerennialClassics.