An analysis of some of the most famous classical American stories reveals masterly skill of literature. Lots of lessons can be drawn from the stories. `The Lottery’ is a 1948 story by Shirley Jackson. It happens to be the most famous short story in the American literature. Jackson uses irony and comedy to bring out the underlying hypocrisy, evil and the weakness of the mankind. From the short story, we notice how hypocrisy, evil and the human weakness influence their actions. The other story is `The Destructors’. It is a story by Graham Greene involving teenagers destroying a house. The purpose of the story is to reveal the destructive and evil element in human nature by the use of irony.
`The Lottery’ describes the events that take place in a small village, where people closely interact and have a distinct regard to their tradition. The lottery is an event that held annually. It is a game, where one person in the town is randomly chosen through a draw and is violently stoned by family and friends. It is the practice that every household in the rural town participates and has been in existence for over seventy seven years. Jackson presents the lottery idea as an annual event that is welcomed as a festive event. The social atmosphere prior to the event is described as one with so many expectations by the villagers. The exercise is conducted in such a way that a reader would expect the winner to be awarded a valuable prize or something admirable. Surprisingly, at the conclusion of the narrative, we can conclude that a winning person is stoned to death by family and friends. The setting of the lottery story is in a mundane town, the town where all people know each other and carry out their routines normally. Jackson reveals the evil side of man. She brings out the fact that people can have a decent outward look, but in their hearts they lurk pure evil.
Jackson reveals the idea of evil element in the human nature through Mr. Grave and Mr. Summer. Mr. Summer happens to be the one in charge of the lottery. He has the responsibility of preparing the papers to be drawn. The society describes him as respected who makes jokes with villagers and carries his duties during the lottery event without discrimination. His name is symbolic of the mood of the story and his character of being jovial all the time and tone of the event. Mr. Grave is summer’s principal assistant. He is often present but often not in the spotlight. His character foreshadows the ordinary people’s wickedness that is always present, but absent in the spotlight.
Together with hypocrisy in the lottery, Jackson reveals the human weakness in the village. Terrible acts have been performed for over seventy years through the lottery. It is evident, that no individual has had objections or asked the main reason for carrying on with the tradition. All people know that it is a tradition to be there, and its out math is nothing, but the trouble.
Mr. Summer’s failure to replace the black box used in drawing exercise is symbolic of the failure of the society to guard the beliefs. The black box was stained and faded. This was symbolic of the villagers` reality view. Jackson uses Mrs. Hutchinson, a protagonist, to reveal a person full of hypocrisy and weakness. It is hinted that she tried to rebel and not turn up for the lottery event. Surprisingly, she arrives late and gives an unsatisfactory explanation for this. She said that she lacked the knowledge of the event taking place. It is ironical that the person who almost stayed firm for her beliefs is the one who won the lottery and was bound to be stoned by friends and family. Mrs. Hutchinson is presented as a person who knew that the lottery event was wrong, but then she did nothing to stop it.
In the story, `The Destructor’ by Graham Greene irony is employed revealing that destruction is a form of creation. It is about a boy’s gang calling them the `Wormsely common gang’. The gangs develop a plan to destroy fine-looking two hundred year home. The atmosphere surrounding the setting is dark and has a pessimistic point of view of the world. The surrounding was destroyed in the Second World War hence adding a violent mood. It is learnt that Blackie is the leader of the gang and accepts T’s plan to destroy Thomas’s house. The plan is to destroy the house from the inside to ensure that no single part of the house is left, when Thomas was not around. T says that he will destroy the house, because it is beautiful. It reaches the climax, when the boys are mercilessly destroying the house, and when Mr. Thomas returns earlier than expected, the gang locked him up in the house and continues to destroy it.
Greene uses Trevor with other characters to reveal the destructive nature in the human beings. Trevor is a round character. We are able to learn about his personality, when we read the story. He is a static character, because his attributes remain the same throughout the story. He is the antagonist in the story and the house plays the similar role. It plays the role of opposing Trevor. It was the only house left standing after the World War. Blackie plays the role of a silent character. He remains hesitant in voicing his concerns about the gangs plot to destroy the house. The Old Misery or Mr. Thomas is revealed as a man who loves peace and preserves beauty. There is foreshadowing in the sense that the story is about the post Second World War and after.
London was attacked and bombed by Hitler. It is clear to the reader that nothing was left standing after the attack. The bombing of London foreshadows that Old Misery house would be destroyed. In the story, `The Destructors’ the irony is the complete opposite of what readers expect. Destruction is brought forth as a way of the normal life for the Wormsley gang. For any level of destruction to take place, there must be a reason for such destruction. Ironically the destruction in the story is senseless.
Hence, there is no moral lesson in the theme, since the destruction takes away what has been created. The tone is a serious tone, since it makes the reader reflect effects of war. The house is used as a symbol of hope during dark times. T destroys the beacon of hope, perhaps because he has no motivation in life and wishes the same for everybody.
From both stories, `The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson and `The Destructor’ by Graham Greene, we find out that they both revolve around explaining the human evil and weakness. Both Jackson and Graham reveal the evil of mankind without mentioning it. Through the people`s actions, they reveal what they are made of. From the stories, it is evident, that the tones used, are different. For instance, in ‘The Lottery’ the tone is friendly to the reader while in `The Destruction' the tone is harsh and serious. We can also point out that; the authors have used irony, foreshadow and symbolism to make clear their points. We can conclude that both stories have in one way, or another explained the evil nature of mankind and his weaknesses.