Comparison Contrast essay of "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

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Two short story classics, "Paul's Case", written by Willa Cather at the beginning of the twentieth century, and "The Lottery", by Shirley Jackson in 1948, explore the effects of conforming to Society's expectations, and the expectations we place on ourselves.


Shirley Jackson and Willa Cather develop the setting of their respective stories to help us understand the environmental forces influencing the characters, drawing upon these forces to show us the power, and influence of society's expectations of our lives. Jackson uses an unknown time and place, which allows the reader to visualize a very old, brutal ritual as if it were occurring in the present. (Jackson) Conversely Cather's story of a delusional boy occurs in a specific city, Pittsburgh, between the years 1900 and 1910, when industries were growing. This almost unregulated growth created a rich and powerful segment of society in America. It is this wealthy class that Paul most identifies with, but is unable to become a part of through the normal course of his life. (Cather)
Like Cather, Jackson uses the death of ordinary people to emphasize the impact of the major themes of her stories. Though both use different themes to create an emotional connection for the reader, it is each character's death that conveys the emotional message of the writers.. In "Paul's Case", The American Dream is the predominate theme. Cather places the reader in a middle class neighborhood. It is through listening to the resident's stories about the life of luxury enjoyed by their rich bosses that Paul becomes obsessed with this lifestyle. ...
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