Survival in Three Short Stories

842 Words4 Pages
The effort to survive and to see another day has always been a problem since the first men walked the Earth. There are many obstacles that make living day-to-day a harsh struggle and many reasons why some fail to meet the expectations of this struggle. Some reasons of why people fail to thrive in life is captured vividly in the three short stories “The Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét, “How to Build a Fire,” by Jack London, and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The author of each story cunningly drops hints in the text as to why characters and civilizations lead themselves to doom. Their faults leading to their fate lies in their knowledge of hate, ignorance and tradition. To begin, “The Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét expresses the fall of a civilization rather than a person. The story tells of a boy who travels to post-nuclear war New York City and sees the aftermath of the great burning, which refers to a nuclear bomb or missile. Benét writes, “It was fire falling from the sky and a mist the poisoned” (116). The author is trying to hint that a bomb was dropped. To construct a doomsday bomb, one must need knowledge of hate and of science, which led to the death of most of the world’s civilization. In addition, Benét also hints that this civilization fell because due to knowledge of hate when he writes, “When gods war with gods they use weapons we do not know” (116). The author expresses to the reader that this pass civilization must have had knowledge, for they knew how to use unknown weapons, which are made only for destruction. It was the knowledge of hate that led to majority of the world’s death in the epic story of “The Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét. Next, the short story “How to Bui... ... middle of paper ... bring down the entire village in the nightmare world of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The timeless battle for the reward of survival has gone on through out the ages. Unfortunately this battle is not always won due to faults such as knowledge of hate, ignorance and tradition. Some souls will not taste the satisfaction of winning another day to live. These stories seem to relate to the common solider who struggles each day with the knowledge of hate for his opponent, the ignorance of stooping down to the primitive solution of fighting and following the tradition of battle for honor. Like the people and civilizations in these stories, the soldier keeps on fighting hoping for survival. However post nuclear war New York, the traveling man, the lady who was stoned and the common soldier all know some souls will not taste the satisfaction of living another day.
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