“The Lottery” and “Cleveland and It Hurts”
I will make a comparison of the above two stories in the light of suspense, foreshadowing and flashback. I chose to use the above elements of literature because the two stories are heavily dependent on those elements.
The Lottery examines the dark side of a human being, the results of one’s ritualized doings, as well as hidden and probable cruel nature of a person.
The story by Swanson Cleveland and It Hurts is full of remorse and disappointment which the main characters experience. Swanson effectively used flashback to tell his story and to create suspension. Swanson did not start his story in a conventional manner, “when your wife is killed by hit-and-run you get on an Amtrack and head West” (Swanson 1).
From the very first line, the suspense is created. It helps the reader to immediately get interested about the way the incident took place. The author depicts some distant past to show the kind of life that he had with his wife. It is not very hard to realize that the narrator is thoughtful.
It is likely that the couple was newly married because the narrator goes in details about their wedding ceremony but he fails to mention anything about their children. Within the same first line of the story, I find more suspense in the reasoning of the narrator – why did he head west after his wife had died? what were the reasons for that? The author uses flashback to reveal more about the life they had with his wife before she passed away.
On the other hand, the story Lottery used foreshadowing to reveal the flow of events in the story. This is in contrast to the story by Swanson which used flashback to build the story backwards. For instance, the piling of the stones by the children at the beginning of the story was a foreshadowing of the stoning which was to take place at the end of the story.
Though the piling of the stones does not raise any suspicion for the readers, a keen reader can easily point out the purpose of the stones when the crowd at the end of the story gets nervous. I found it quite suspending that the author was not giving enough information about the lottery at the beginning of the narration. The reader is given very scanty information about the lottery. The author only reveals this information at the very end of the story, therefore, effectively keeping a reader guessing what is going to happen (Jackson 1).
“Things Fall Apart” and “Death of a Salesman”
For the second part of this essay I chose the two stories above so that I could analyze their main characters. Okonkwo is the main character in Things Fall Apart and Willy Loman holds the story together in Death of a Salesman. I found an amazing resemblance between Okonkwo and Wily Loman; actually, the titles of the books can be exchanged –both characters have similar lives and both of them die in the end.
Another resemblance that caught my attention is the determination that both character wanted to succeed in life by means of improving their financial position. Willy went to extreme ends in order to make a fortune for Biff – the fortune that would make it possible for Biff to live the American dream. (Miller 1).
What about our man Okonwko? I choose to call him a gladiator since he was extremely strong, worked all day round and never showed weakness. He hated laziness and weakness with passion and he could even kill to prove he was a man: “Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his matchet and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” (Chinua 43). Okonkwo believed that it was laziness and weakness that made his father Unoka a disgrace of the village.
Okonkwo was determined to reverse this image by ensuring that he became the most successful man in his region which consisted of nine villages. Okonkwo and Willy are two characters in different worlds who struggled against all odds to ensure that they gained respect from the society, and above all that they got more than wealth. The passion to be prosperous motivated both Willy and Okonkwo.
There is one contrasting thing which comes out clearly. In his lifetime Okonkwo was able to command huge respect from the society because of his achievement. There are many achievements that Okonkwo achieved unlike Willy who managed to know one fact that the product that he sold as a salesman was himself.
As Things Fall Apart and Death of a Salesman came to their ending, the main characters of the two stories, Okonkwo and Willy, decide to behave similarly. Being disappointed by their lives, they made up their mind to end their tragic living by committing suicides since they did not manage to achieve things they strived for all their lives.
Chinua, Achebe. Things Fall Apart. London, UK: Heinemann, 1996. Print.
Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. New York, NY: Creative Company, 2008. Print.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a salesman: play in two acts. New York, NY: Dramatists Play Services, 1980. Print.
Swanson, Thea. Cleveland and It Hurts. New York, NY: Pacific Ocean, 2006. Print.