Tone, Style, and Symbols in “The Lottery” and “The Rocking Horse Winner Diana Greene Liberty University Thesis Statement and Outline Thesis Statement: “The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson and “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D. H. Lawrence are both short stories in which the authors use symbolism to convey the theme of each story. However, these short story’s themes are contrasting, with one of the story’s theme being a quest for love and the other theme is the lack of love. I. To convey the themes of “The Lottery” and “The Rocking-Horse Winner” the authors use symbolism.
A. In “The Lottery” there is the black box which a symbol of the villager’s tradition. 1. The “black box” was the specific equipment used for the lottery that had lost some of it original purpose. The villagers were will to let go of some of the original rule for the lottery, but never decide to get rid of it all together, even though other villages had rid themselves of the lottery. 2. Though the “black box” had gotten ragged and shabby, there was never interest for it to be replace.
The original intent of the “black box” had lost its meaning over the years because not only was it shabby but the wooden chip were replaced with pieces of paper. 3. The “black box” was only significant one time a year, then it was place in various, unimportant places for storage throughout the village for the rest of the year. B. The use of symbolism in “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is the rocking horse and the whispering house. 1. The whispering house’s statement to the family would be, “there must be more money when the family would spend money on thing that were costly and they could not afford them. . Paul though if his luck improve that he would stop the house from whispering. 3. Paul needed money and he no longer knew from his rocking horse how to get it.
II. Despite each author’s use of symbolism for their theme, there are contrasting themes in each story. A. “The Lottery”, shows a lack of love and a presence of persecution in the village people. 1. Because of the expectation of the lottery each year, there were no questions asked from the villagers, the just expected the tradition. 2. Despise the lack of meaning for the lottery the village refuse to relinquish their custom. . Because of the acceptance of the lottery, the adults were teaching the children a lack of love and compassion and how to persecute others.
B. In “The Rocking-Horse Winner, the theme was a quest for love. 1. In order for Paul to receive love from his mother, he felt the need to be lucking and this was the only way for her to except him. 2. Paul sacrificed everything to be lucky and for his mother’s love. In Paul proof of his becoming lucky he gave his mother wealth, risking everything which inevitably cost Paul his life.
Tone, Style, and Symbols in “The Lottery” and “The RockingHorse Winner” In each of the titles of these stories, “The Lottery” and “The Rocking-Horse Winner”, the authors have captured the audience by using words that would bring to the mind of the reader something that is pleasurable and enjoyable. The word lottery and winner usually are associated with gain and fun, leading to a positive outcome and a happy ending. However, the authors of these two stories have given us quite the opposite of the ending of these stories, their themes are contrasting, with one of the story’s theme being a quest for love and the other theme is the lack of love.
In these stories, “The Lottery” and “The Rocking Horse Winner”, the authors have made use of symbolism that indirectly conveys the center of the message and the theme for each of the story. With love, even though there is a lack of it in one story, and the use of symbols, being the things that both of these stories share as a theme. Shirley Jackson’s, “The Lottery”, tells about the lack of love and the evil of blindly following the traditions of a village. Jackson is attempting to show that people should what is important and what is not important in a tradition before acting upon it.
In “The Lottery”, she uses the black box to symbolize the lost meaning to an old tradition for the people in the village. As a matter of fact, the author states in the story, “the original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago”, (Jackson, 2013, p. 71) just as the original tradition and its meaning had also been lost. This symbolic item brought about some excitement, anxiety, and fear because someone was going to be the one picked in their annual traditional event that had dismissed some of the traditional rules, instruction, and items used for the lottery.
Through the many years of the lottery this black box had become, as the author calls it, “shabby”, beaten up, and the original wooden chips that belonged inside the box were replaced with pieces of paper, and each year the box was stored in a variety of places, out of sight and out of the minds of the people until the next year’s lottery. There was no interest shown by the people of the village to replace it the box nor the wooden chips, but they were also not willing to let this tradition go.
Although the meaning of the lottery’s essential meaning had been lost long ago, the villagers were willing to change and to forget a few of the things about the lottery for it to suit the town as it changed over the years. In the same fashion of symbolism, D. H. Lawrence uses the rocking horse and the whispering house to display the inability to be satisfied in a person’s lives if greed governs their life and the need for love. The rocking horse in this story would have multiple symbolic meanings, one certain symbol is the representation of Paul’s anxiety.
The whispering house is constantly haunting the family with the words, “there must be more money, whenever money is spent on costly items that the family could not afford” (Lawrence, 2010, p. 174). Hester, Paul’s mother’s greed and her materialistic is developed in this story to show that it will destroy love and happiness, she was emotionally incapable of developing any kind of attachment to her children. The author uses Paul’s rocking horse as a symbol of isolation from everything and everyone around him and as a pursuit of love from his mother.
Hester’s state financially leads Paul to believe that he will gain Hester’s love by winning money for her by riding his rocking horse and predicting the winners of horse races. This eventually overpowers Paul and is a contributing factor to his demise. Although these authors both use symbolism in creating a better understanding for the reader in the themes of their stories, each of the themes could not be more contrasting. In the theme of “The Lottery” where there is the lack of love, which is a result of the persecution of the people in the village is to not follow traditions blindly.
The unquestionably decisions of the people to follow the customs and traditions of the lottery was expected of them, even though they had already changed and eliminated parts of some of the traditions of the lottery, and they were not willing to give up this cruel tradition altogether. The tone of this story has a drastic shift from an actual lottery that is peaceful and a normal every day kind of tone, to grim and evil, especially when we are lead to believe something very different in the outset of the story. In contrast, Paul is in this constant fight with his emotion problems that are created from a lack of love from Hester, his mother.
Paul has lost all innocence of childhood with his journey on his rocking horse because it has evolved into a task that he is determined he is going to achieve. Paul’s rocking horse has been changes from one of his toys to the symbol of death, as Paul is transported with every ride away from life. Both of the authors have incorporated elements in these short stories of fables, fantasies, and fairy tale. Like a fable, these stories both present morals to be adhered to. In “The Lottery”, so not blindly follow a tradition and in “The Rocking Horse Winner”, greed is an aid to demise.
The fantasy part of D. H. Lawrence story, would be Paul’s ability to tell the future winner in the horse races and of course we would not stone a person in today’s society like in “The Lottery”. “The Lottery’ certainly allude to John 8:7, when Jesus frees a women who the Scribes have accused of adultery. In both of the stories a fairy tale is being told as the scenes opens up with a sense of calmness, “There was a beautiful woman, who stated with all the advantages, yet she had no luck” and as we look at “The Lottery” as a fairy tale, the author paints the beginning of the story as a fairy tale as we assume that winning this lottery of maybe money, bonuses, or prizes.
However, Jackson’s story takes a complete turn in unveiling a frightfully realistic picture of the villagers lives and focuses the reader to reconsider if this story is a fairy tale. “The Lottery” certainly allude to John 8:7, when Jesus frees a women who the Scribes have accused of adultery.