Individuality and Community

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Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery depicts a primitive society founded on blind conformity. The piece is riddled with laws that are purely arbitrary but must be strictly enforced. The lottery’s grim inference, on the other hand, shows a civilization that does not doubt the roots of the ritual or its significance in their society, but nevertheless follows it. In the end, the conclusion is assassination, and the peasants spend a long time preparing for and attending a brutal occurrence that results in murder, which they themselves carry out. The culture is further seen to be based on blind allegiance because some of the rules are now ignored while others are not. However, no one seems to ask why some of the rules have been ignored while others stand a start reminder that the rules are random and the culture of silence and blind allegiance comes first.
While this piece may seem to depict an old far away culture, it really represents the larger modern culture that ignores present injustices simply because the victim is another person. For example, when a black person gets killed by police, the rest of the society seems to take little notice and simply ignores the pleas of the family left behind simply because they found the system to be that way. Tessie Hutchinson is the victim in this story. The community unfairly imposes a death sentence to her simply because she drew the lottery. It is not only absurd but brutal. The author is silent about Tessie, the victim of this absurd culture as she merely portrays the character and does not render support or withdraw it.
The choice of the genre here is important. The use of fiction here by Jackson gives her the needed space to employ irony which she achieves through imagery. For example, the fact that the setting looks like an old culture far away only to turn out to be the culture we live in is actually ironic. Rather than social improvement, this piece demonstrates that the community can be the greatest threat to the survival of its members by subjecting them to death.
In The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich, the piece reflects the culture of those who are mentally ill. This piece addresses the needs and realities of the mentally ill and seeks to show the concerns of this subculture to the rest of the community. To highlight this difference, Erdrich writes the story on the backdrop of two close characters, Henry and Lyman. The mind and the actions of Henry demonstrate that he is living in a completely different world. In a world that is experiencing an escalation in the number of suicide rates, mental illness seems to be a major concern and therefore, the author is addressing the concerns of a significant portion of the society.
The author highlights the conflict between Henry and his brother Lyman and the community. After coming back from the war, Henry is seen to be out of touch with the community and especially to his one close brother Lyman. In the eyes of the author, Henry is delicate and the author supports him because he seems to want to show everyone the side of Henry that they cannot understand. The author tries to signal to everyone that Henry is one his way to suicide but no one seems to take notice. As a work of fiction, Erdrich message is able to reach a wider audience because there is a sense that this is not an issue for Erdrich alone but rather a much wider audience. In regards to societal improvement, Lyman comes out as brave enough to embrace his brother although he hardly understands him anymore.
In the Letter from Birmingham jail by Martin Luther King, the piece reflects the culture of the oppressed black minority in America. His story highlights a long history of discrimination and abuse that is based on race. His story highlights the contrast between the individual and a deeply discriminative mainstream culture. King is addressing the white Americans who were the majority of the population at the time as he tries to win their support in his long war against the racially discriminative system. The message that is depicted in this letter is timeless because while the Jim Crow laws may not exists any more, racial discrimination depicted in other forms is still rife in America.
The conflict here is between King and the authorities. The community unfairly imposes legal restrictions and it is no wonder that King goes to explain that there are legal and unjust laws. This is important because he is keen on explaining why he respects some laws but not others. Being the author, King obviously is keen to support his cause. Written in the form of a letter, this genre is effective because it brings the audience as close and intimate as possible to the author who is appealing to the emotions of the audience. No genre is as much emotional appealing like a letter because the author is able to appeal to the emotions of the readers through not just words but also through the tone. King comes out as brave because he appears determined to pursue his cause against a much bigger and monstrous opponent that has the law on their side but King still goes ahead despite those odds attacked against him.
In the story The Chinese in all of us by Richard Rodriguez, the author seeks to reflect on the migrant culture and communicate their perspective to the mainstream culture. By growing alongside an Asian community and a Hispanic culture, the author is able to demonstrate the intimate details of each community and ultimately demonstrate that the migrant cultures are now significantly contributing to the larger American identity. While on the surface this piece discusses on Asian and Hispanic culture, deeper inside, the reader gets to see how these migrant cultures are forming part of the larger American culture and identity. For example, though a Hispanic, the author grew much closer in an Asian community.
The conflict here is between Rodriguez himself and a community that sees him as being out of the ordinary. Throughout the story, he highlights how his life story is not so different from those of others in America. The individual in this story is important in the eyes of the author because he carries the whole weight of carrying the message and demonstrates ideals that are close to the heart of the author. This nonfiction genre narrated in first person is an effective style because it comes out as more persuasive than fiction is demonstrating that his life is similar to those of others because it comes out as believable.

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