Monday, October 6, 2014

Mini Macabre Review Monday: "The Lottery" and "The Most Dangerous Game"


'Tis the season for the unearthly, the undead, and the downright macabre. Not everyone can read an entire book in time for Halloween- some of us are too busy with other books, or even other things (gasp). For those poor souls, I offer these reviews: I will be writing my thoughts on some of my favorite short stories for this spooky season, either one at a time or in pairs. This feature will be called: Mini Macabre Review Monday. Be warned: many of these stories will be by my beloved Edgar Allan Poe, and are suitable for pretty much any age (as in, most of them I read in junior high). Don't be scared of the short and sweet: pull up a chair and have a seat.

This week, both stories have a similar theme and aren't by Edgar Allan Poe. I'll let you read them (I've linked to where you can find them for free online) and figure it out for yourselves. I also read both of these in school, so they're supposed to be somewhat educational.

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

Available to read for free, online here. (With a few spelling errors- nothing major.)
Rating: 4 Stars (Excellent)
Content: Suggested violence. I read it at 11-13 years old for school with no mental scarring.
Page Count: 7 pages in the online version
Year Published: 1948

I read this in junior high, and it brings to mind a certain very popular YA book, which I will disclose at the end in a spoiler highlight to not ruin anyone's enjoyment. This story is very short, seven pages long online, so I decided to pair it with "The Most Dangerous Game", which is longer. It is not specifically a Halloween tale (even though it mentions the holiday), but it brings to mind the old shows on tv: The Twilight Zone, so I thought this would be a good non-Edgar Allan Poe story to cover.

The Plot: The townspeople gather for their annual lottery.

There isn't much to discuss for this story without getting spoiler-y, so I'll keep it short. Every town usually has an annual parade on the Fourth of July or Christmas (in the States, at least), and this brings to mind that. Why do we have traditions, and at what cost will we keep them?

I think of my old town, Billings, where it became a custom to put a Menorah in your window during Hanukkah, even if you didn't happen to be Jewish. Why did we do it? One year, a long time ago, some racist threw stones into a person's window for them having a Menorah in their window. The next year (or maybe even that year), everyone put a Menorah in their window, so there was no way the idiot could single out anyone based on their religion. Although that is a heartwarming story, "The Lottery" is about the opposite of that- except in the fact that people band together and agree on the tradition.

*Spoiler Alert!* (Highlight to view):
This story reminds me so much of The Hunger Games because the plot is about the same. This story is more ironic as opposed to dystopian, but can have a little bit of both. People have tried to ban this story from being told in schools, but really, it never bothered me as a teen and it taught a valuable lesson: learn to question why we have traditions.

"The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell

Available to read for free, online here. (Again, a few errors, but nothing to sniff at.)
Rating: 5 Stars (Extraordinary)
Content: Violence and racism. I read this as a junior high and high school student, I advise it for Ages 13+.
Page Count: Roughly 42 pages (based on an Amazon version)
Year Published: 1924

"The Most Dangerous Game" is another story that has a certain element of the deadly, and although it's much longer than "The Lottery", it's well worth your time. In "The Lottery", you don't get to know the characters as much as in this story, where the characters have more backstory and personality.

The Plot: Sanger Rainsford falls overboard near an island the sailors have a curious mislike of, after hearing gunshots and screaming in the distance. He reaches the island, but will his host be amenable?

Again, it wouldn't take much to spoil the plots of these short stories, so my reviews will be very brief.

This short story is one of those that has a bit of a cliched Russian villain that you often see in Bond films. I don't know if there were books before it with the same type of villain, but the villain was probably not used in this way.

There was foreshadowing in "The Lottery", but nothing beats the foreshadowing of "The Most Dangerous Game", if you can figure out what it is. Dun dun dun...

There is a book that I've recently read that reminded me of "The Most Dangerous Game", but it would spoil the book if I told you, so I'll have to keep it to myself.

Overall, I love the style that this is written in and love the story itself- especially the ending. Both of these are very short, spooky, and can be read in under an hour, so don't be afraid of reading them online (for free).

Until tomorrow,

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the freebies! Love having little shorts to occupy my time or when I feel like taking a break from the long reads.

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    1. You're welcome- I was so glad I could find these online because I had a hard time remembering the finer points of the stories. It's nice to be able to read something in under an hour.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Kat!
      ~Litha Nelle

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  2. Great Hallowen idea! Thank you for the links.
    The Menorah story is interesting, too (and yes, heartwarming).

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    1. You're welcome- I love short and spooky stories myself, so I figured I'd share where they can be found. I'm not sure why The Lottery reminded me of that story in my own hometown, but considering it is a tradition (despite the racist not repeating his/her crimes) it sort of brought to mind that story.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Roberta!
      ~Litha Nelle

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