The Gift of the Magi vs. the Lottery

786 Words4 Pages
Addi Baquet
Mrs. Brown
English I Pre-AP
7 October 2014
Sacrifice: Beneficial or Injurious?
It has been proven time and time again that one cannot live an effective life without sacrifice of some sort. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” both elaborate upon the basic ideas of sacrifice, but the depiction, motives, and consequences of them highly contrast, more specifically, their take on love and tradition. These two stories project contrasting views of sacrifice and both demonstrate situational irony. “The Lottery” conveys a darker, societal, ceremonious sacrifice in order to keep tradition, but “The Gift of the Magi” projects sacrifice through selfless love and genuine care for another rather than self.
In “The Lottery’s” exposition, Jackson plants us in a seemingly average, peaceful community gathering in the square on the date of what civilians call “the lottery”. The reader perceives, by the author’s tone, that “the lottery” spoken of is similar to that of the twenty-first century in which the chosen wins something of value such as money. The reader also learns that “the lottery” is an annual event that has occurred for many years, a tradition to the people of the town. The story continues and we learn that the lottery is based from families, the head of which is the one to choose from the pot. The lottery begins and each head of household draws a folded sheet of paper from the black box; Bill Hutchinson, head of the Hutchinson family, has chosen the individually designated slip with a black dot on it. It is now that the tone changes; the chosen family doesn’t seem as celebratory as the reader may have expected, rather in denial. Mr. Hutchinson’s family of five, Mrs. Hutchinson and his three children, are then sent back up to draw, but now each of them must instead of only he. This time, it is Mrs. Hutchinson that draws

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