Traditions of Scapegoating Found in
Cresia Reese English 1020 Prof Sparks Traditions of scapegoating found in “The Ones Who Walk Away from ” and “The Lottery” The various cultures that exist in the United States all have different ways to scapegoat a variety of people and cultures in society today; as depeicted in the fiction stories “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin.
In “The Lottery,” is a story about a community that has passed down a tradition of death by stoning for many years, this person would become the scapegoat of the community. In the story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”a community has a hidden secret which involves the captivity of one person who has to live a life of despair in order for a community to thrive. In comparing both stories to life as we know it today, we have found that there are traditions which have been passed down in our communities and eventually lead to a person to become the scapegoat of the community.
How do our various cultures today allow passed traditions to use individuals as scapegoats just like we find in our fictions stories? The word scapegoat means, a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place. The idea of a scapegoat applies to both stories in the same manner, a person is used as a scapegoat to uphold there communities. Both stories use traditions of there past ancestral history to use a person as a scapegoat to carry on the behaviors that were passed down to them via traditions.
Shirley Jackson was an author who used a perfect example of scapegoat in her stories. “The Lottery” brings us to the scapegoat aspect of this story you see that the traditions in the community allows for another scapegoat victim every year, they are stoned to death in a symbolic process. Ursula K. Le Guin also used a scapegoat the hidden person to hold up a community and keep it from the dangers of the outside world. These traditions were passed down by the ancestors of the people who currently live in this place. Also in “The Ones Who Walk Away rom Omelas” there are several people who have chosen to walk away from the hidden secret that was revealed to them and they did not wish to remain in that community any more. The hidden secret was symbolic as a scapegoat because without this person this community would have failed based on passed traditions. To compare the traditions of stoning a person to death and hiding a person to up hold a community are both forms of scapegoat. The scapegoat matters in both the stories and show that as human beings that we believe in history and certain traditions in our communities.
Also people and things are used as scapegoats as passed down by traditions and as a symbolic way to forge ahead in life, so they do not hinder there communities. Why should the people in our communities not follow along with the traditions of the past? Because we feel that these traditions followed by our ancestors did not prove to be right and they should not be followed in the current times. When you think about the story “The Lottery” you have been thrown a curve ball, most people think about a lottery used in our current day and age where you have a slim chance of winning something good like prizes or money.
We soon come to find out that a lottery in this story is all a sham; “At mid morning on a late June day a peaceful village crowd gathers on the square for the annual lottery. The procedures have been handed down over generations with little change. While in the harmless process of drawing lots the villagers reveal their excitement. Suddenly, when the winner is selected, the innocent game turns out to be a horrifying sacrifice: the winner is stoned to death for the welfare of the community. Such is the limited picture that could be given of Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’. (Schaub 1) As we find out in this story there is another thing that also stands out in this story and that would be the black box in this story. In the story the black box is used as a way to single out one person to be the winner of the said lottery. The black box is a symbol in the story of the way to reduce the size of a community. This is why they held the lottery each year they would bring all the families together in the square and have them to pull a slip of paper from the box and eventually at the end of the gathering one of the residence in this community would lose there life.
We can see that scapegoats are recognized in both objects and actions as we find in both stories “The Lottery” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. In “The Lottery” the pulling of a name from a black a black wooden box and then there was the death of one person at the end by being hit with stones. The character (Tessie Hutchinson) was one who was always ready to be the one to throw the stones, but when it came time for her to be the on being hit by the stones she felt that it was not fair and or right. “It isn’t fair’ she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head” (Jackson 218).
You have (Tessie Hutchinson) who was very excited every year to be a part of the traditional lottery process and when it came time for her to be stoned she was the scapegoat in the traditional process. Then we move on to “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” where there are several characters: one (the child) who was forced to be the scapegoat, and al the ones who walked away from the community (many people). They all chose to be free from the scapegoat act of holding this child to support the community which was free of all major problems that many communities face today.
The issues today in different cultures, religions, and stories using people and things as scapegoats to uphold current and traditional believes. Moving forward to compare the scapegoats used in both stories to show how our traditions, which are passed down still eventually lead to people to being used as scapegoats in our communities today. “So that the lottery is to be understood as a modern representation of the primitive annual scapegoat rite” (Schaub 1). This information hits the nail on the head as the lottery process is a primitive act that we are not sure why this was even being done and it was never explained.
In today’s society there are still several groups (cults, religious groups, & clubs/organizations) that are secluded from most communities and societies today. We know some of these groups have different rituals and rules as to who and how you are allowed to become involved. These rituals most times come from traditions which were taught by the ancestors of the leaders or promoters of said cults and groups. The definition of a cult is listed as Sociology: A group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols or ideas.