We can see the themes of scapegoating an individual and the mistakes of the community in Jackson's "The Lottery" and Lawrence and Lee's Inherit the Wind.
The theme of a community needing a scapegoat is evident in both works. Both works show how the community needs a target, someone who can be painted as an outsider or "not one of us." In Jackson's "The Lottery," this process is facilitated through the lottery. The lottery was part of the town's history for generations. It is a practice of identifying one person through random drawing and then stoning them to death. In this story's plot, Tessie Hutchinson's name is drawn. She becomes the community's scapegoat. Tessie's pleas of "It's not fair" and "It's not right" are silenced when the first stone hits her head. Tessie's scapegoating is very similar to Bert Cates's. The town targets the high school science teacher for upsetting traditional teachings. When Cates teaches Darwininan evolution to his students, it challenges their embrace of Biblical instruction. As a result, townspeople feel it is their responsibility to target Bert Cates. The trial is their way of identifying a scapegoat they feel must be punished. Tessie and Bert are seen as outsiders and are targeted as a result.
The process of scapegoating reveals the profound mistake of each community. The townspeople in "The Lottery" do not admit they are wrong, but it is clear that what they are doing is awful. Jackson contrasts the idyllic setting at the start of the story with the townspeople's savagery at its end. While the members of the community do not see a problem with their tradition, Jackson's depiction forces us to condemn their practices and reflect on our society's own. Inherit the Wind shows the town as equally wrong for their scapegoating of Bert Cates through the trial. Drummond's cross-examination of Brady goes very far in making the townspeople realize their mistake. While Cates is not fully exonerated with the verdict, the townspeople do not possess the same scapegoating fervor at the end of the trial that they did in the beginning. Both works forcefully display the the community's mistake.