Essay on The Tooth by Clara Spencer

Essay on The Tooth by Clara Spencer

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As Laurell K Hamilton once said, “death is the last intimate thing we ever do”. It comes in different ways and at different times, but death comes for all of us. In Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening, Edna is faced with enormous heartache and desperation that she feels she has no other choice but to take her own life. This is paralleled in The Tooth and The Lottery, two short stories by Shirley Jackson. Both stories feature a character who is met with their death at unexpected moments in their lives, but in very different situations. The event of death plays a central role in these three works.
In the short story, The Tooth, Clara Spencer is leaving home to go to the dentist. She has had a toothache for as long as she can remember. Her husband accompanies her to the bus station, and seems genuinely concerned about this toothache that she has had for their entire marriage. Clara has medicated herself heavily with “codeine, whiskey, and sleeping pills” and these have left her feeling “funny, light-headed, and dizzy” (Jackson, pg. 266). Although her husband offers to go along, Clara goes into New York City alone. She feels as she was “all tooth and nothing else”. While on the bus she meets a man named Jim who talks to her the whole way. She finally makes it to the dentist and has her bothersome tooth removed. While under the anesthesia, she dreams about Jim. When the procedure is finished, she makes her way to the ladies room to freshen up. However, when she looks in the mirror, she does not recognize the reflection looking back at her. She removes the barrette from her hair with her name on it and reads the name aloud, trying to identify the owner of the object and the name that she does not recognize. She is disappoi...


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...the black dot. Despite her protests of the situation, she is stoned to death by her friends and neighbors. There is nothing that she could have done to change her fate.
In conclusion, the main character’s death is a common event that is present in The Lottery and The Tooth by Shirley Jackson and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Although the situations surrounding Tessie, Clara, and Edna’s deaths are different, they are at the center of their respective works. Tessie was chosen by chance to be stoned be her family, friends, and neighbors. Clara, unable to identify herself, was lured away from her life and family to hell by a daemon lover. Edna commits suicide because of rejection and a need for absolute freedom.



Works Cited

Chopin, K. (1981). The Awakening. Toronto: Modern Library.
Jackson, S. (1949). The Lottery and Other Stories. New York: FSG Classics.

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