If it makes you happy it can't be that bad

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Thematic Comparison: The Lottery vs. The Hunger Games

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games illustrate the negative and positive aspects of life in old fashioned societies.

In both The Lottery and The Hunger Games, the dangers of blindly following tradition are portrayed.  In The Lottery, once a year, all citizens of the village are required to meet in the square for the lottery.  When a villager picks the paper with a dot out of the black box, the rest of the town must stone that person to death, but don’t question or recall why they do so.  “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use the stones.”  In The Hunger Games, once a year they have “The Reaping” in the town square.  One boy and one girl (referred to as ’the tribute’), between the ages of 12 and 18, are chosen to represent their district in the annual Hunger Games.  The rules of the Hunger Games are “Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death.  The last tribute standing wins.”  In both texts, the societies both follow tradition blindly, and consequently have to face death.

Both stories also suggest that the hierarchy of the citizen plays an important part of ensuring they are not chosen in the annual lottery or game.  In The Lottery, Mr. Summers conducts all civic activities for the town, including the lottery itself.  Being in charge of preparing the box and calling the eldest man of every family to come and take a slip of paper means that he does not have to partake.  In The Hunger Games, citizens of the Capitol do not have to participate in the Hunger Games because they are in charge of the whole ordeal.  In district 12, each child has their name put in once a year, and they stay there until their 19th birthday.  Individuals could also sign up for a Tesserae (for food) which puts their names in the bowl four more times.  The Mayor’s daughter does in fact have her name in the bowl, but due to her families wealth and status, she is fortunate enough to not have to sign up for a Tesserae.  This means her name will be in the bowl six times by the time she can be removed, so her odds of ever getting selected are very slim.  Both The Lottery and The Hunger Games show that in the older societies, having a higher status or having more authority means an individual also has a higher chance of survival.

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games both describe life in old fashioned societies and the aspects of it, both negative and positive.


  1. Actually in The Lottery, Mr. Summers who conducts the drawing of the lottery does in fact partake in it. "Mr. Summers calls his own name and then stepped forward precisely and selected a slip from the box."

    1. I'm glad you made the connection between the two stories. However, did you talk about any positives? I would hardly call the Hunger Games an ancient society and I don't think either stories convey any attractive aspects to their audiences. Rather, both stories depict dystopias, societies that are imperfect and especially horrific.