How do you compare the symbolic use of the scapegoat in "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and "The Lottery"?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I like the connection being made.  I never thought of it prior, but it works phenomenally well.  Both short stories utilize the concept of "The Scapegoat" in an effective fashion.  It seems that in both settings the targeted individual is needed in order to continue the forceful and dominant nature of the social setting.  Tessie is the "chosen one" in Jackson's setting.  The traditional nature of the public stoning and the fact that the villagers cannot seem to recall a time that existed without it reinforces the fact that someone has to pay the ultimate price for the collective success and vision of the social order.  When Warner derides the notion of eliminating the ritual because, "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves . There's always been a lottery," it reinforces the idea that the society believes that it lacks the will or the desire to stop the practice.  Its inertia has become so ingrained into functionality that it can no longer present anything in the opposing manner.  In much the same way, the people in LeGuin's Omelas lack the will or the creative forces to battle the inertia to stop the scapegoating of the child.  It seems that the people in Omelas, like Jackson's village, place a higher value on social success than any individual concern. Recall the manner in which LeGuin describes the joy and elation at the festival throughout the town. There is a belief that this is the zenith of human progress.  To sacrifice it is unheard of and something that cannot be conceived.  Recall what is offered by the narrator at the thought of freeing the child.  Omelas' happiness disappears at the liberation of the child.  This creates the reality of social progress and contentment, similar to the village's tradition, threatened with the stopping of the ritualized targeting of the child.  It is because of this that the scapegoat must live in both settings. The reality constructed ends up becoming that someone, a perverted notion of "the chosen one," must endure pain and unimaginable torment in order for others to experience happiness.  The brilliance of both works lies in the fact that individuals can either choose to see this as a state of reality or a state demanding change, as consciousness as it is or as a state of affairs that demands transformation,

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