How is the short story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson similar to the novel series The Hunger Games?

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a couple of similarities between the stories that seem to be to be almost an homage to the earlier story "The Lottery." For one thing the names chosen by the authors are symbolic: in Jackson's short story there are characters whose last names are "Summers" and "Graves" and these names both speak to symbolism relevant to the story. "Summers" implies the repetition every season of the lottery, making it a yearly tradition akin to an agricultural festival. "Graves" is name that functions as a kind of foreshadowing because the lottery always results in one resident of the town being stoned to death by the others.

The symbolic nature of many of the names in The Hunger Games finds characters with names based upon the natural world, as well as names of Shakespeare characters and characters from mythology. The names tend to be suggestive rather than explicit in this way. Katniss's younger sister is named Primrose, which denotes her fragility and youth, emphasizing Katniss' desire to protect her. Their last name "Everdeen" suggests the concept of loyalty and steadfastness, "ever" meaning Katniss is constant and dependable. Some of the other Hunger Games participants have mythological names such as the twins Castor and Pollux, or from Shakespeare, such as President Coriolanus (from the play named after a Roman leader), or Cressida (from Troilus and Cressida). The use of names from these texts lends an air of myth and ancient history to the story, which has many disparate elements that give it a timeless quality that blends images reminiscent of the past and hinting at the future.

The other similarity between the two narratives lies in the central event referred to in the title of each; the lottery drawing and the Hunger Games are both spectacles and contests, designed to be games of chance. The element of fate figures strongly in the outcome, but both events are also designed and implemented by their respective governments, and the residents are forced to participate.

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Several similarities exist between the short story, "The Lottery" and the novel, The Hunger Games.  In both stories, the main character questions the reasons for the continuing deaths each year and the purpose of allowing the lottery or game to continue. In a way, both Tessie and Katniss are rebellious towards the demands of the government and the negative event required of the villages each year. Tessie complains while Katniss acts, but each resents the government intrusion into village life. In each story the government is demanding someone's death as the punishment or the appeasement of the ruling group.  While set in completely different eras, the feelings of frustration and anger on the part of the villagers are evident in both stories.

awittrig2015 | Student

Both “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collin take place in dystopian societies. These societies have their own set of laws and diminish the value of the human lives within their societies. There are two key similarities in “The Lottery” and The Hunger Games, the first are the protagonists, and the second are the end results of the society’s annual ritual.

The protagonist in “The Lottery” is Tessie Hutchinson, and the protagonist in The Hunger Games is Katniss Everdeen. Each character is forced to participate in their society’s annual ritual. Tessie is forced to accept her fate as the entire town turns against her, while Katniss finds herself forced to volunteer out of a desperate love for the well being of her sister. It is expected that both characters will parish in the events that are to come. At the end of “The Lottery” readers understand that Tessie Hutchinson never had a chance to rebel against the people of her town, and we realize she has participated this is ritual many years before as an individual throwing stones at an individual of the same town. Readers realize not only is Tessie unable to change her fate, but she has also played a cruel hand in finalizing other individual’s fates as they pleaded for their lives. Katniss, on the other hand, is able to change her own fate. She is survives the first game, and goes on to lead the rebellion against The Capitol.

The second key similarity between “The Lottery” and The Hunger Games is end result of each society’s ritual. The end result is death. In “The Lottery” one person from that town is guaranteed to die every year, without exception. In The Hunger Games it is expected that 23 individuals will die every year as there will be one individual who ‘wins’ the game by continuing to live. At first glance the death toll appears to be unequal in the stories, however it is important to remember only 23 individuals in the world die due to the annual hunger games. In “The Lottery” there is no annual death toll number provided, however readers may estimate the death toll number to be higher than that in “The Hunger Games.” This may be estimated from the conversation that takes place between Old Man Warner and Mr. and Mrs. Adams. Mr. Adams tells Old Man Warner, “…over in the North Village they’re talking of giving up the lottery” and Mrs. Adams proceeds to share, “Some places have already quit lotteries.” This conversation alludes to the possibility of the death toll being much higher than that featured in The Hunger Games.