Fiction Essay

592 words - 3 pages

Ironic Symbolism: “The Lottery” and “The Rocking Horse Winner”
ENGL 102: Literature and Composition

Ironic Symbolism: “The Lottery” and “The Rocking Horse Winner”
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence are stories in which the authors rely heavily on irony and symbolism. Both works of fiction involve self centered mothers and conclude with tragic circumstances. Jackson and Lawrence used those elements to illustrate the points of their writings.
In “The Lottery”, several things were used in a symbolic way. The most prevalent of these is perhaps the town’s lottery itself. Set within a small village in rural America, the townspeople participated in an annual drawing in which someone would “win” their lottery. It is a common thing to participate in various kinds ...view middle of the document...

So he would mount again, and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there” (Kennedy & Gioia, 2010). Just as luck is unpredictable and is not guaranteed, such is the plight of Paul on his rocking horse. He moves it back and forth, always seeking to obtain providence and wealth.
In both “The Lottery” and “The Rocking Horse Winner”, there is also a strong component of irony. At the end of “The Lottery”, Jackson shows how not all traditions are good, just because they are accepted by everyone. Old Man Warner speaks of how things are just the way they’ve always been when the drawing is taking place. And Tessie Hutchinson shouts, “You didn’t give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair!” (Kennedy & Gioia, 2010), after her husband Bill gets the paper with the black dot. Tessie participated in the event in a good-humored manner, even joking lightly as she arrived late to the lottery. The children are described as having set up small piles of stones and playing with them before the selection took place. But, the ironic circumstances took a fateful turn when Mrs. Hutchinson declared the “sudden” unfairness of her name being chosen to be the one publically stoned by her friends and family.
Likewise, Lawrence’s writing was no stranger to irony. At the conclusion of “The Rocking Horse Winner”, it was only in death that Paul Wesley finally considered himself to be lucky. Paul’s mother, Hester, was depicted as a “woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck” (Kennedy & Gioia, 2010). It was his mother’s lust for money that drove Paul to believe that he must have riches to gain her love and acceptance. Ironically, she never recognized the value of her “bonny children”, until the end of Paul’s life.

Kennedy, X. J., & Gioia, D. (2010). Literature, an introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, and writing, compact interactive edition. (6th ed.). Boston: Longman.

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