Acts of Violence and Brutality Illustrated in Jackson's The Lottery and Hurston's Sweat

Acts of Violence and Brutality Illustrated in Jackson's The Lottery and Hurston's Sweat

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From the beginning of time, human nature has lent itself to violence and brutality. You see evidence of this as you read the news, or watch television. You might have been, or will be, the victim of this dark side of human nature. Looking back to the children of Adam and Eve, Cain killed his brother, Abel, marking, as I heard in a theology class, what many theologies claim as “the paradigm for conflict and violence.” Throughout our readings in The Story and It’s Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction, we have seen many episodes of violence and brutality, ranging from torment to ritualistic murder. What do these acts represent within each story? In examining “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, and comparing it to “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, I will illustrate how the acts of violence and brutality that we have read about represent deeper issues within society, specifically male dominance and female oppression.
I will begin with a brief background of each story. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, is narrated in a third-person, objective point of view. Published in The New Yorker on June 28, 1948, “The Lottery is “Jackson’s best-known work, often anthologized, dramatized, and televised” (364). Jackson states, “I supposed, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives” (364). “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston is narrated in a third-person, limited omniscient point of view. Written in 1926, and published in 1927 in The Eatonville Anthology along with stories by several other writers, “Sweat” was one of two stories “that first brought Hurston’s work to the attention ...


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...me” (Whittier). She also clarifies that “Men have choice; women choose only when they are already at risk in the lottery pattern” (Whittier). I am in complete agreement with the thoughts and analysis presented by Whittier, including the fact that the formalities of the lottery “extremize that order kept by men in explicit opposition to women” (Whittier).
In conclusion, after comparing the violence and brutality within “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, we see how it represents deeper issues within our society. Male dominance and gender oppression has ultimately led to brutality and violence towards women for many years. Each of these stories gives clear examples of how our society has evolved; much like Delia did, becoming harder in the face of oppression, ultimately leading to extremes in violence and brutality in our communities.

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