Gains and Losses in “The Lottery” and “The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”
In “The Lottery,” by holding the lottery every year, the community gains a sense of security. They are convinced that the lottery will keep them safe. Old Man Warner says, “Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live hat way for a while. Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns.” By this, Old Man Warner means that as long as the lottery is held, life will continue as usual. They gain a sense of security because they think nothing bad will happen as long as the lottery is held. The community loses friendly and familial bonds, as well as trust in one another. When the townspeople see Mrs. Delacroix pick up the biggest stone and tell Mrs. Dunbar, “Hurry up,” her friends probably wonder if she will do the same thing to them when they are chosen in the lottery. Mrs. Delacroix shows that she is excited about stoning her friend, Tessie.
In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” the community gains money and entertainment. Pelayo and Elisenda had “crammed their rooms with money,” and the line of people coming to see the angel “reached beyond the horizon.” The angel was also a source of entertainment, and people came from far away to see him. The town lost the chance to show kindness and pity to an angel in need, as well as any sense of morality they may have had. Everyone, especially Pelayo and Elisenda, are very cruel to the angel. They only appreciate him for what he can give them, which is money and entertainment. When the angel became very sick, Marquez writes, “He could scarcely eat and his antiquarian eyes had also become so foggy that he went about bumping into posts. All he had left were the bare cannulae of his last feathers.” This would be the perfect time to be kind and take pity on the angel. Instead, Pelayo and Elisenda were worried because “the wise neighbor woman had been able to tell them what to do with dead angels.” This means that they were not concerned about the angel at all; they were only concerned about what they would do with his body.