Friday, July 13, 2012


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Conformity in society allows for order and obedience but it is when the conformity is

broken that society grows and changes for the better. Society as a whole needs conformity to

maintain the values and morals that has made the society survive. In “The Lottery”, “A and P”,

and “The Story of an Hour” the societies demand its people to follow traditions and values

brought on by past generations. The characters in the stories confront the conformity in their

societies and leads to ridicule and cruel reactions by the societies. These stories show that people

will follow the simplest but at the same time harshest traditions to maintain a basic way of life.

“The Lottery” presents a society that holds on to the old tradition of past generations just

to maintain conformity over the life of one of the society’s own. “The Lottery” shows that this

society would sacrifice one to save the lives of many. Shirley Jackson writes, “Lottery in June,

corn be heavy soon. First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns.”

The townspeople want desperately to keep the conformity and order even though most of the old

tradition was lost. Jackson explains, “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the

black box, they still remembered to use stones.” Shirley Jackson depicts the townspeople quickly

turning on family members and friends just to keep the old traditions. When the chosen is picked

they would attempt anything to escape death even though if it where somebody else they would

gladly conform to society. Shirley writes, “You didn’t give him time enough to choose.

Everybody saw that...It isn’t fair, it isn’t right.” “The Lottery” demonstrates how ordinary

people can become mindless and cause horrific acts just to conform to society.

Kate Chopin presents marriage as a must for women to be accepted in society even if they

lose their own identity. “The Story of an Hour” shows a deception of marriage at the turn of the

century for women as binding and loveless to their husbands. The society allows for little rights

for women and must take on the identity of the husbands. With the death of Bently Mallard,

Lousie can take on the person she was before the marriage. Chopin writes, “There would be no

powerful will bending her in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have

the right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature.” The regaining of Louise Mallard’s

own identity was so great that the arrival of her husband caused her death. The society for

women and the demands to conform allowed for little love and support. Chopin writes, “ She

had loved him sometimes, often she had not.” Kate Chopin shows that Lousie Mallard could

lose her husband, show little grief because of the thoughts of controlling the life she had before

the marriage. “Free, free, free....beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come

that would belong to her absolutely.” Kate Chopin presents marriage as a necessary evil for

women to conform to society and be accepted. Although women give up their own identity they

become more accepted by their society.

Conformity in society even affects the basic things in life such as shopping at the grocery

store. John Updike presents the customers as sheep who show the same shopping patterns every

time they enter the A and P. The A and P must show this order for it to effectively operate. This

shows that in all societies that order must be in place to stop problems from occurring. It was the

girls breaking this conformity by disobeying the dress code that causes an uproar with the

manager. The breaking of the conformity was felt by Sammy who shows pity on them and

decides to quit. The manger tries to remind Sammy that breaking this conformity is bad thing by

trying make Sammy feel guilty. Updike writes, “Sammy, you don’t want to this to your Mom

and Dad.” Sammy believes to be true but it was still wrong to make everyone to conform to what the grocery store wants its’s shoppers to be. “The A and P” demonstrates that when conformity

is broken society is quick to have a backlash on the ones who had broken the rules and the norm.

The conformity in society allows it to survive over many years. This is presented in “The

Lottery” and “The story of an Hour”. The townspeople had carried out the lottery for countless

generations make sure their was a plentiful harvest for the entire town. In the case for “The Story

of an Hour” marriage has been a binding clause for women to obey their husbands for countless

years. In all stories it is when this conformity is broken that it is almost for the better.

Conformity in society is necessary, but old values and traditions must be challenged or changed it

help improve society.

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