Thesis help for paper comparing "Lottery" to "Omelas"I have to write a 5 page argumentative research paper on "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K....

Thesis help for paper comparing "Lottery" to "Omelas"

I have to write a 5 page argumentative research paper on "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin and I need to use 2 scholarly articles. I need help in coming up with a thesis statement because i have no idea what to write about for this paper.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both of these stories are based on a tradition that demands that someone is hurt or die for the good of the community.  In "The Lottery," much like the current "Hunger Games" stories, someone has to be sacrificed in order for the world to continue as it is.  The question becomes what happens if this does not happen.  Who has established the rule?  Does the community override the good of the individual?  Why do people stay where this kind of practice goes on?  Just because something has been a tradtion, does not necessitate the existence of the tradition. 

The other story "The Ones Who Walk Away from the Omelas" continues on in its oppulence based on the torture of a child.  In addition, those that have walked away are never seen again. There is an ominous connotation about what happens to those who can no longer stand to live under the conditions of the child torture. 

The point with both stories is that is it wrong for the group to benefit from the torture or death of other human beings.  The people who participate are like sheep being led to the slaughter.  Why do they not stand up against the tradition?  Refuse to take part.  If someone is going to die, it would be better to stand up against the societal infringement than to support it by doing nothing. 

Both stories make this point: Society continues on as long as the individual's well-being is sacrified for the good of the many. 

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good approach to writing an argumentative essay about "The Lottery" and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" is to take a position on whether the stories are dystopian or utopian in their outlook.  There is plenty of evidence to support either stance, and your argument would be one of perspective. Finding scholarly essays to cite with the search criteria "utopian/dystopian"  and the story titles would yield plenty of literary criticism to use in your essay.

To begin to write your thesis, you would need to first investigate what is meant by the terms utopian and dystopian fiction.  Once you understand them, reread the stories and decide if they are both utopian, both dystopian, or whether one is dystopian while the other is utopian.

When it comes down to writing your thesis, make your argument explicit and at least hint at how you will support your position in the essay.  For example:

Both "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and "The Lottery" must be considered dystopian fiction because in each, a community engages in an abhorrent ritualistic tradition that is believed necessary for the collective good.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In neither story does anyone explicitly condemn the offending behavior. In Omelas, it is true that some people leave (seemingly) in protest, but no one ever stays and tries to change the system, and no one seems to object to the awful tradition except the victims in the community depicted in "The Lottery." Why is this? What makes us afraid to speak out against injustice or unjust traditions when we see them? Why is it so hard?

You could also focus on the concept of scapegoating. In these stories, one person is unfairly persecuted by their communities; they did not do anything to warrant their punishment, but society chooses them to be the recipient of a terrible violence that seems to be necessary to the orderly functioning of the society. You could investigate the idea of scapegoats, attempting to account for their prevalence. Why do they seem necessary to individuals in the stories? You could even generate a list of other real-life scapegoats in order to pursue this question.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure what the articles are supposed to be about, but I would suggest that you focus on the main difference between the two stories.  In "The Lottery" no one really objects except those about to die and their loved ones.  Does anyone walk away from the village?

loveanimals93 | Student

They walk away from the village of omelas and they are both about sacrifice 

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The Lottery

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