Comparitive Study of Mending Wall
Comparative Study of “Mending Wall” and “The Lottery” Traditions bring people together for a purpose of handing down beliefs or customs from generation to generation. The tradition could be for a joyous purpose like Thanksgiving or Christmas, and even a sorrowful purpose like funerals or a date like September 11. In “Mending Wall” the tradition brought two neighbors together each year to repair any damage made to their fence. However, in “The Lottery” the tradition brings the whole town together to sacrifice one person drawn in the lottery in hopes of bringing a bountiful harvest.
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While many traditions are important to hold over, in some instances it is essential to abolish traditions that have outrun their time in this modern age. For instance there was a law to forbid people from carrying pliers that could cut a fence made in the old days when there was the open range in Texas. Now there is no open range in Texas therefore we do not need the law anymore. The speaker in “Mending Wall” used repairing the fence as a symbol of ridding old traditions while in The Lottery everyone kept up the tradition even though people showed fear.
In both “The Lottery” and ‘Mending Wall” there is some resistance to go along with the tradition each holds. In “Mending Wall” the speaker pokes fun at the neighbor by explaining there is no need for a wall, “There where it is we do not need the wall; He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple tree will never get across and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. ” (lines 23-26). The speaker sees no purpose for the fence since it is only separating the trees. Likewise, in “The Lottery” there is a lot of uneasiness throughout the town leading up to the stoning of Tessie Hutchinson.
In the beginning of “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson writes about the children , “ School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play…” (pg. 92). When one goes to school in the United States of America one learns about their rights as a citizen. The students in the story went to school and learned about these things and when it was time for the lottery many of them knew that there was something wrong about the lottery which gave them the feeling of uneasiness.
Just like there is resistance to go along with the traditions in each piece of work there is also some conformity to go along with the tradition. For example at one point in “The Lottery” some people start talking about how the people of the north villages are doing away with the lottery. But they are quickly hushed by Old Man Warner who calls the northerners a bunch of crazy fools. Thomas Du Bose explains, “Old Man Warner, the embodiment of rigid tradition, seems to believe that the sacrifice is necessary to ensure sufficient food for the village, but the other villagers are maintaining practice out of habit and sheer inertia (2).
Likewise, in “Mending Wall” the neighbors response to the speaker is always “Good fences make good neighbors” showing that he is going to carry out the tradition and knows no other way. More resistance against the tradition would be that Tessie Hutchinson is a rebel against the holding of the lottery. She shows up late to the lottery with an excuse that she forgot that it was the day for the lottery. How could she forget the one day in the year when someone will be getting stoned to death? Tessie Hutchinson in a way undermines and violates the rules of the lottery.
When Bill Hutchinson draws the bad ticket Tessie begins ranting about how Bill was not given enough time to draw and how unfair the lottery was. Although there were some similarities between “Mending Wall” and “The Lottery” there was also many differences between the two. In “Mending Wall” the tradition was only between two people who would get together once a year to fix the fence. While, in “The Lottery” the whole community was involved in the tradition of the lottery, as well as the kids.
Since the whole community was involved in the tradition it may have been more difficult for someone to speak up about their opinion of not liking the lottery. In “Mending Wall”, since there were only two people it was easier to communicate if one or the other didn’t like the idea of the tradition. A. R. Coulthard explains, “The poem’s two characters seem equally uncomplicated, the “bad guy” and “good guy” foils that most critics have identified: a bullheaded traditionalist who “will not go behind his father’s saying” that “Good fences make good neighbors” and a progressive narrator who hates divisive traditions” (1).
Another difference between the two would be “Mending Wall” is a poem and “The Lottery” is a short story. Each has its advantages and disadvantages in telling each story. “Mending Wall” was a poem that one had to read many times and research about it to help fully understand what the speaker was saying. “The Lottery” however, was pretty straight forward but with a surprise ending that made the reader go back and read the story for the purpose of putting everything together now that one knew the ending. Since “The Lottery’ is a short story we get to see the point of view of some of the people in the village.
While, in “Mending Wall” one only gets the speakers point of view. One never gets to understand why the neighbor believes so much in following the tradition of repairing the fence every year for all he says is “Good neighbors make good fences. ” In “Mending Wall” the two men knew when, where, and what to do for their tradition where as in “The Lottery” many of the rituals were either forgotten or just not carried out for one reason or another. Amy Griffin quotes Carl Jung, “Jung posits that even if one does not understand the meaning, the experience provides the “individual a place and a meaning in the life of the generations” (qtd. n Griffin 1). This shows that the people did not care too much about the tradition except for the main purpose of sacrificing someone to supposedly bring a bountiful harvest. As stated before, in both of the works there is some resistance to along with the tradition, but “The Lottery” is more able to show how traditions, though meant for a good purpose, in the end can have some bad effects on society. William Nelles points out, “The point of “The Lottery” is that blind adherence to traditional forms of behavior that have lost their original meanings and acquired no new, positive ones, can be destructive” (1).
Though the speaker in “Mending Wall” is against fixing the fence he never truly expresses his opinion about it and is even the one to make the arrangement for fixing the fence. Maybe he had a good reason for this as Peter Clarke explains, “Although the speaker of “Mending Wa;;” might rather puckishly question this ritual, he must know that he had better participate in it: an “old statue laid down that if any man ploughed up a boundary-mark, both he and the oxen who drew his plough should be sacri, outlawed… if a man was sacer he had no human rights whatever, and if anyone chose to kill him might do so with impunity” (3).
In “The Lottery” there is a little more resistance in carrying out the tradition. Some people in the community explain that people in the northern villages have stopped the tradition. It is almost like the people were asking or giving the idea without making it too obvious out of fear that they too wanted to stop the tradition. Even though it was not until she found out that she was going to be stoned, Tessie Hutchinson screamed how unfair it was and her true opinions came out. It is a citizen’s job to stand up and fight for what they believe in at all times and not just when we are put into the circumstances.
In conclusion, “The Lottery” and ‘Mending Wall’ show how traditions can affect society. When there is a tradition it does not mean that we have to follow that tradition if we do not believe in it. All it takes is someone to stand up for what they believe in and express how they feel about the matter. Sometimes there is a time for change in a tradition. Maybe you don’t have to stop the tradition completely but change it to where it is not putting fear inside of people. Dear Reader Dear Weston, I have to say that this first essay was challenging for me.
The last time I took a composition class was my freshman year two years ago and have forgotten many things learned in the class that would have greatly helped me writing this paper. I had trouble remembering how to do mla citations but the handbook was very helpful in helping me remember. I liked the way you gave us a rubric to show how you would be grading. You gave many pointers out in class about what you were expecting in the paper and didn’t just give a prompt and let us figure it out for ourselves. This was all very helpful.
If I had a chance to start over on this paper I would work on my time management, take advantage of the writing center, and go talk to you personally about my paper. Thank you so much for extending the deadline. Sincerely, Joseph Lugo Works Cited Clarke, Peter. “Mending Wall. ” Rev. of Frost’s Mending Wall, ed. Robert Frost. Explicator Fall 1984: p48. Print. Coulthard, A. R. “Mending Wall. ” Rev. of Frost’s Mending Wall, ed. Robert Frost. Explicator Winter 1987: p40. Print. Du Bose, Thomas. “The Lottery. Masterplots, Fourth Edition (2010): 1-3. EBSCO HOST. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. Frost, Robert. “Mending Wall. ” Current Issues and Enduring Questions. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan and Bedau, Hugo. Boston, 2011. Griffin, Amy. “ Jackson’s The Lottery. ” Explicator 58. 1 (1999): 44. EBSCO HOST. Web. 13 Sept. 2011 Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery. ” Sam Houston State University Engl 1302: Composition II (165). Ed. Boston, 2011. Nelles, Willaim, “The Lottery. ” Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series (1995): 1-3. EBSCO HOST. Web. 12 Sept. 2011.