Analysis of story

1. 2. 3. 4. Analysis and Contrast between ‘ Phoenix, Arizona’ and ‘ The Lottery’ Phoenix, Arizona written by Sherman Alexie is a very simple short story but nevertheless interesting. The story revolves around Victor who had just lost his job and his father. As was the custom, Victor needed to make a trip outside of town, to perform the last rites for his father and claim his money, but unfortunately, he does not have enough money to do so. Thus enters a forgotten childhood friend another native Indian, Thomas Builds the Fire, who is a sort of outcast among his peers owing to his awful habit of story telling. Victor has no other choice but to rekindle their friendship even if it was just until his work got done and make the trip with Thomas who would support him monetarily. Thomas is strangely aware that Victor’s friendship would last only until the ashes of his father are brought back but he had made a promise to Victor’s father and intended to keep it.
Thomas had been a dreamer always and recalls an incident, where he was awaiting a vision near a desolate waterfall, and Victor’s father had dutifully advised him, brought him back and also bought him dinner. Considering that Thomas was an orphan, this gesture was a
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highlight in his loveless life. Thus, the promise made to Victor’s father was far more important than his ego. The trip brings up the past with colorful imagery of two young boys who had experienced life and grew up together but also grew apart due to peer pressure and a society that shunned souls such as Thomas.
The tone of the story is extremely melancholic in nature. On one hand you have the death of a man and the sadness that comes with it, while on the other hand we have a character that is always lost in his dreams, narrating stories, feeling the breeze on his face and then also trying to fly, adding a touch of comic drama to the story. Even the name of this character ‘ Thomas Builds-the Fire’ is comic in nature showing the subtle humor that the author so craftily manages to weave into the narrative. The story is interrupted at one point during the firework celebration stating that “ Years later, they would need much more.” (Alexie)This shows the underlying satirical humor and comic relief in sudden spurts, almost sarcastically threaded into the story.
Therefore according to Freytag’s pyramid, we have the Exposition, which is the loss of his job and the death of Victor’s father, the Rising Action wherein Victor plans to make the trip, leading to him befriending his childhood friend Thomas once again but only for a selfish motive. This leads to the climax, where Thomas asks for a final favor from Victor, which is to listen to his story, somewhere, sometime, at least once. The Falling Action in this story would be that Victor on being asked by Thomas, for the very first time, actually accepts to be a part of Thomas’s world of story telling, even if just for that one time, ultimately leading to the Denouement which is portrayed as a fresh surge of hope for Thomas who starts to see a new
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story unravel in front of him. The story does not hold any allegorical value but does have irony in many instances especially when both Thomas and Victor are aware of their short-lived friendship but still use each other for their own benefit.
On finding contrasting factors between the authors Sherman Alexie and Shirley Jackson, we find that Sherman Alexie has a very sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek sort of style to his writing owing to his profession of being a stand-up comedian. He is a Native Indian artiste who has gone urban like so many others and who has struck a chord with many of his kind making him a star overnight. His work is a mixture of sorts with an undercurrent of humor interspersed with politics, drama, fantasy and irony.
Shirley Jackson has been known to be an influential force to writers like Stephen King. Her body of work had surpassed any writer of her time. This particular story brings out the chilling tale of rural America, which has some disturbing situations. The story revolves around a very unassuming scenario where the villagers are gearing up for their monthly Lottery. The reader is dragged all along the story thinking it has something to do with money and is completely thrown off-guard when the last stanza reveals the nature of the Lottery as of being a death sentence to the chosen one.
While Sherman Alexie chose his stories to unravel with the format perfectly set for Freytag’s pyramid, Shirley Jackson prefers building up a plot in bits and pieces like a sort of mind game, without revealing any details and suddenly catapulting the audience into an unknown world of sordid chilling horror.
Interpretations of Shirley Jackson: Writing Style
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