The Value Of a Human Life Essay

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The Value of a Human Life What is the value of a human life? The way is set before us. It is how we choose to live it that will show the value of, not only our own life, but those with whom we share it. In the stories, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and A Worn Path by Eudora Welty, the rituals and traditions faced by the protagonists will show man’s humanity and inhumanity to the value of a human life. In Shirley Jackson’s story, The Lottery, a simple piece of paper is used as a symbol of what a life is worth. A piece of paper is made for each head of family, each member of household, each member of each household in each family. Then a paper is drawn, from a long been used and tattered black box, to announce the “winner” of the lottery. The “winners” life, a sacrifice, is a tradition that has gone on for as long as anyone, even the oldest townsperson, can remember. Yet after the “winner” is chosen Jackson gives thought as to what the paper is worth when she writes, “Mr. Graves had selected the five slips and put them in the box, and he dropped all the papers but those into the ground, where the breeze caught them and lifted them away.”(248) The papers are carefully prepared in advance, placed in the old, worn black box and kept safely until the given time, but yet the papers are so easily discarded when the sacrifice has been chosen. Jackson’s images lead the reader to wonder, is an established ritual easier to follow, to take a life, simply because traditionally it has always been done that way. After the lottery is completed and the sacrifice has been made, the community quickly returns back to its ordinary life waiting until the same day a year later for the lottery to be completed once again. The ritual is just another day to get through and Tessie is just one victim of many, Jackson writes, “…the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it
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