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Engl 102 Fiction Essay - the Lottery, and the Rocking-Horse Winner

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Ethan Fisher

Dr. Rhonda Tilly

English 102-D52

16 November 2017

Fiction Essay

Thesis: “The Lottery”, and “The Rocking-Horse Winner” are vastly different short stories when it comes to their conflicts, structure, and tone, but they also share some striking similarities in particular areas.

  1. The conflicts in these two stories are different in just about every way, yet they both lead to a character dying in the end.
  1. There appears to be no real conflict in “The Lottery” until the conclusion of the story when you see that the lottery in the story is not a lottery we know today.
  2. In “The Rocking-Horse Winner” the conflict appears clearly very shortly after the beginning when you read of the depravity in Paul’s mother.
  1. The writing structure is very different in each of these stories, yet the way the conclusions are structured are the same.
  1. “The Lottery” is a bit confusing throughout the story and you can’t really see the whole picture until the conclusion of the story.
  2. “The Rocking-Horse Winner” also has some mystery throughout it, but it becomes obviously clear by the conclusion of the story.
  1. Both short stories have strikingly different tones set in the beginning and end very much opposite of each other.
  1. The tone of “The Lottery” starts out in more of a positive light, and the ends turns dark.
  2. The tone of “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is dark at first, but it gets lighter as the story progresses, but at the end reverts back to a dark place.


From beginning to end in each of these short stories we see the comparisons of money. Though in “The Lottery” we see it isn’t about money at all in the end, we are given the impression that money is the central focus here. It almost seemed “Hunger Gameish” in the fact they were choosing who to kill. The main conflict in this story really appears when Bill Hutchinson seems to have not had enough time to draw his paper. Tessie immediately speaks up, but it seems to no avail. This eventually leads to her death as she is stoned within in the last 2 sentences of the story.

In “The Rocking-Horse Winner” we see a portrayal of young boy named Paul yearning for his mother’s affection, as she is longing for a luxurious life. Paul thinking the way to earn his mothers love is to place bets on horses to win her money. Paul becomes determined to allay his mother's discontent by betting on horses to earn money. Paul believes that when he rides his rocking-horse, he obtains knowledge of the winning horse in the race. This convinces Paul to make a winning bet on a horse that earns his family the life of luxury his mother longed for. In the end however, Paul falls off his rocking horse, and though not immediately, it eventually kills him.


“The Lottery” seems to be a story about a lucky family getting ready to have their lives changed for the better, yet by then end we find out not all is as it seems. This short story goes from light to dark almost in the blink of an eye as the sharp turn downward makes way for a confusing ending that really just leaves us questioning everything we just read. In the “The Rocking-Horse Winner” we see nothing but depression the whole way through as we read of this mother’s distain for her life and a poor boy longing to fulfil the unmet expectations of life for his mother. In the end it’s this very pursuit of making his mother happy that becomes his downfall. Though he succeeds in bring his mother the life se wants, she now has to live that life without her son. Judging from the opening context of giving the feeling she didn’t really her children anyway, it begs the question of is she truly remorseful of this account anyway?

Between these two stories we are left with a handful of questions and emotions. The “Rocking-Chair Winner” being the more emotional story I would say weaves and bobs in and out of this depressing tale of a pursuit for a better life that ends more depressing than when it started. There are lighter moments when it seems the mother might actually have love for her son, but that is almost immediately met with his death. In “The Lottery” we are covered in this mysterious cloud of the unknown from the beginning to end. The point of this story, which I am honestly still a bit confused on, appears to be a play on the word lottery. This lottery portrayed at the end of the story is one no one in our modern day would dare volunteer to play. This whole story from beginning to end is a giant question that never is given a clear answer. In the end we see what the lottery actually is, but not why everyone is playing, as it seems everyone is required to play due to the roll call.


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