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“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson Essay

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Updated: Sep 5th, 2022

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson tells the story of a village that practices an old ritual on 27 June every year. The ritual brings about all the members of the community together who participate in the ritual and the winner gets the prize of death. The villagers kill the member of the society by stoning him or her. On the other hand, is the poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost, which gives us the story of two neighbors who constantly mend the wall between their properties. The two literary works depict individuals and society. This paper will compare what they have to say about the individual and the society.

Mending Wall and The Lottery are similar because they tell us about individuals and society. The setting of both stories is in the countryside. In The Lottery, the setting is a fictional village and we see young boys collecting stones for use in the violent death of one member of the community who will pick a marked paper from the black box in the lottery. The community gathers before lunchtime to conduct the ritual because to them it is just a normal activity annually. They will finish killing and go back to their houses for lunch. The society accepts the ritual and perpetuates it even though they do not understand its origin. This practice has to be fulfilled without questioning just because it is a tradition that has been in the village for a long time. Similarly, in Mending Wall, the two neighbors engage in mending the fence annually because the fence has always been between them. They keep repeating this activity by putting the stones back to repair the broken fence. One wonders why they cannot just do away with the fence instead of repeating this activity that they put a lot of commitment into every year.

When one neighbor questions the need for the fence as he does not understand what they are walling in or out as his orchard has apples and his neighbor’s pine, which would not harm each other as, they cannot cross over. His neighbor tells him not to talk about fences because good fences make good neighbors. He seems to enjoy the barrier that separates them. Likewise, in The Lottery Mr. and Mrs. Adam question the lottery as they feel it is not necessary because even other villages had abandoned the practice. The Old man Warner tells Mrs. Adam that the practice cannot be abandoned because it ensures a good harvest unless they are willing to risk hunger. These individuals in the two stories are willing to question the customs of the society but the society does not give them a chance as it insists that the practices must go on. The neighbor and the old man Warner represent tradition.

In both the poem and the story people do not form meaningful relationships due to the old practice. For example, in The Lottery Mrs. Delacroix was too wiling to kill her friend Mrs. Tess Hutchinson just because the tradition said so. In Mending Wall, the neighbors do not form meaningful relationships as they only thing that bring them together is the wall that also separates them. Ironically, each mends the fence from their side thus; they do not even cooperate fully in mending.

The contrast is that in The Lottery, the tradition brings about physical harm to one unlucky villager every year but in Mending Wall, the weather breaks the fence. The tone used in the Lottery is detached and we do not see the feelings of the community members while in Mending Wall the tone is lighthearted as shown in the conversation of the two neighbors who see the mending as an out door game. Humor contributes to the tone as we see the neighbor shifting the stones one by one to repair the fence. The author of The Lottery used the third person while Mending Wall first person.

Finally, the two authors address the issue of a tradition that can hinder a society from moving forward. They challenge people to reexamine their practices and discard those that hinder progress in creating meaningful relationships amongst people and for the greater of society.

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IvyPanda. (2022, September 5). "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mending-wall-by-robert-frost-and-the-lottery-by-shirley-jackson/

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IvyPanda. (2022, September 5). "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/mending-wall-by-robert-frost-and-the-lottery-by-shirley-jackson/

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""Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson." IvyPanda, 5 Sept. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/mending-wall-by-robert-frost-and-the-lottery-by-shirley-jackson/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson." September 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mending-wall-by-robert-frost-and-the-lottery-by-shirley-jackson/.


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IvyPanda. ""Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson." September 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mending-wall-by-robert-frost-and-the-lottery-by-shirley-jackson/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. ""Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson." September 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mending-wall-by-robert-frost-and-the-lottery-by-shirley-jackson/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) '"Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson'. 5 September.

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