It religion and death are the main subjects

It is natural to form
prejudice and sin by being deceptive to your own true self identity; it is a
part of human heritage.  Flannery O’
Conner, the former writer and short story essayist, expresses this idea in her
short story titled “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Prejudice, religion and death are
the main subjects of the short story, in which she strongly addresses not only humans
futile attempts to use religion to escape death but also how human identity is defined
externally and easily manipulated. Similary, Shirley Jackson in her short story
“The Lottery” draws on death as an
extreme metoraphical example of how societies get rid of innocent people for
absurd prejudicial reasons. The lottery describes where society leads to if
humans continue to follow the masses and in group selection, by not questioning
their prejudices and long followed traditions critically. In a sense, Shirley’s
story begins where Conner’s story ends, a fact that account for both the
similarities and differences between the two works. The two essays can be
compared on the basis of their subjects, and their use of common ideas.

 

So what is prejudice or
sin and how might it lead to death? In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” prejudice
can be metaphorically equated to sin as a preconceived opinion the grandmother
had about the “Misfit” that was not based on reason or actual experience. The grandmother had prejudiced beliefs and feelings which
caused her to act in a prejudiced way because she was conforming to what is
regarded as normal within the social comfort of the group she belonged to. In
response to this socialization, it is interesting to note the use of the word “MISFIT”
the grandmother used to describe the killer. Moreover, being a “lady” was
important for the grandmother’s self identity. She asks if she looked like a
lady so that the MISFIT wouldn’t shoot her which reflects the predjuce and hypocrisy
that she still relied on for external justification and fulfilled it to a certain
degree through her appearance and class. Again, the emphasis on status,
prejudice and wealth is treated as a sin and is ultimately meaningless when compared
to the final context of death when the Misfit shoots her.

 

Similarly, “The Lottery”
displays how prejudice and the pressure towards a traditional group not only
intensifies pre-existing sentiments, but also begins cultivating a deep seated
tribalism. By using main characters whose snobbish
and selfish personalities rigidly conform and reject those they consider to be
inferiors, we go through the entire process of men in the society picking names
from the blackbox. Ironically, we never know what the lottery is about or any
kind of function. The sinful act of killing innocent Tessie and causing her
death as she protests the decision is still being carried through as the remaining
members of the society have learned to generalize and judge only according to
one specific experience. Those who are persecuted become “marked” because of a
trait or characteristic that is out of their control— for example Tessie’s name
being picked out of random chance from the blackbox.

 

Though these works, in
these ways, share some topics and aspects, their ideas are distinct and
individual regarding religion. Once the grandmother’s prejudiced sentiment was
on the scene, the stage was set for the arrival of religion to be referenced during
her death scene. As she realizes the Misfit is going to shoot her, she begins
to beg the MISFIT to pray to Jesus almost as if this can clear the MISFIT’s
conscience of all the evil deeds he has committed to be saved by god’s grace.
On the other hand, in the “Lottery” there is no direct reference to religion
but the lottery itself serves as a symbol of sacrificial killing. Similarly,
the black box serves as a symbol of omen on who will die that day and the
society’s eagerness to kill using stones as some sort of a holy ritual that
everybody needed to take part in to glorify and sanctify themselves. On a balance, both the differences and similarities
between the stories strive to make their audiences make a universal commitment
to the unity of humanity against prejudice or sin.

Reference:

O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard To Find.” 1983. 

Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” 1991.