Scapegoats Essay

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The stories of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omeleas" by Ursula K. Le Guin depict societies that depend on scapegoats in order to maintain the ideal lifestyle. In the following analysis I will compare and contrast the conflicts scapegoats pose upon the society. The stories both carry the underlying theme of having a scapegoat; however the two stories differ in the character’s reaction. The two stories carry the same symbolic meaning: peace and harmony may be maintained within the community when there is a suffering scapegoat. The community achieves a form of relief by having the scapegoat symbolize the community's sin. Despite all sentiment among the people in both communities, there must be an innocent person who must suffer in order for the majority to be content. Therefore we are left to believe there is no such thing as a utopia. Although our initial thought at the beginning of each story was that the societies appeared to be a utopia. Both communities seem perfect in every aspect. Once the reader discovers the scapegoats, we realize the societies contain imperfect qualities that can not be considered a utopia. The scapegoats pose as a major imperfection; ultimately imperfection is not a utopian feature. A major similarity between the two stories is that the communities are unable to continue their harmonious existence without the suffering scapegoat. In "The Lottery", Old Man Warner explains the reason why the society is unable to afford to discontinue the Lottery, or the selection of the scapegoat " '[we'll] go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while…Nothing but trouble in that’ "(Jackson, 503). Then in "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omeleas" the author explains the society may not exist without the scapegoat. The presence of the scapegoat allows them to carry on with their ideal lifestyle.

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