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Consider Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” or Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” Jackson’s work examines the negative aspects of conformity. “The Lottery” opens with a town gathering. Each family draws a slip of paper from a box. There is one marked slip of paper and the family that receives that slip must draw again. This time, each individual family member draws from the box. The individual who draws the marked slip of paper is stoned to death. When the story opens, readers get the sense of excitement and nervousness in the air. However, readers quickly realize that the lottery is not a joyous event.
Connell’s short story, which is widely anthologized, explores the extent of human brutality. The story follows Rainsford, a big game hunter, who falls of a yacht and finds himself stranded on an island owned by the peculiar General Zaroff. Zaroff seems to admire Rainsford, but Rainsford quickly realizes Zaroff’s twisted plans. Rainsford finds himself being hunted by Zaroff and must use all of his survival skills to stay alive.
The dystopic short story “Harrison Bergeron” asks the questions, “What would happen if everyone were made equal?” Vonnegut explores this question with his protagonist, Harrison Bergeron, a smart and handsome teenager. Harrison must wear “handicaps” to counteract his intelligence and good looks. When the story opens, Harrison has just escaped from prison and is attempting to overthrow the government. Although he is ultimately unsuccessful and gunned down by the handicapper general, Diana Moon Glampers, the story tells a chilling tale of conformity and orthodoxy.
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