Similarities and Differences Between The Lottery and The Hunger Games

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 When traditions are obsolete, society is adversely impacted. The Lottery and The Hunger Games are two insightful texts that reveal the adverse effects of blindly following some traditions. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson narrates about a small town where its residents believe that for their harvest to flourish, they must sacrifice one person from any family every year on June 27th. The process of picking the person to sacrifice is simple. The person who draws a paper from the black box that bears a black mark is sacrificed through stoning to death by the villagers.

On the other hand, “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins is based in a dystopian society where twelve districts and one capitol honor an annual tradition. Every year a male and a female from each district are selected as tributes to The Hunger Games. In both stories, there are some similarities and differences in the story’s plot, style, and historical and artistic context.

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Both “The Lottery” and “The Hunger Games” have similarities and differences in their plots. One of the significant similarities in the plot of the two stories is that both are based on the selection of an individual for a deadly event. In “The Lottery,” Bill Hutchinson drew the paper with the black mark, and thus he was stoned to death by the villagers. Also, in “The Hunger Games,” Katniss Everdeen volunteers for the deadly event after her sister is picked (Collins, 2008).

However, there are some differences in the plots between the two stories. One of the differences is that “The Lottery” is set in a small village “where there were only about three hundred people” (Jackson, 1988). The village’s residents have been holding the lottery for many years as a tradition that should be followed strictly by the community. The lottery is a way of selecting a person who will be stoned to death for their harvest to flourish. On the other hand, “The Hunger Games” involves selecting a male and a female aged between 12 and 18 to participate in a battle royale. The story is in the post-apocalyptic world of Panem (Dzikriya, 2019). Unlike in “The Lottery,” “The Hunger Games” is held to prevent the citizens from rebelling against the ruling government.


The writing styles used in the two stories are different in that “The Lottery” uses a formal and a traditional writing style because of the period when the story was set. The story is set in the early 1900s. Besides, Shirley Jackson uses descriptive language to set the story’s tone and scene. For instance, at the onset, Jackson describes the morning of June 27th as “clear and sunny… the flowers were blossoming profusely, and the grass was richly green” (Jackson, 1988). This description helps the readers to visualize the kind of environment where the story was set.

On the other hand, Suzanne Collins in “The Hunger Games” uses an informal and modern writing style since it is set in a dystopian world. In particular, Collins uses action-packed language to engage with the readers. For instance, The Hunger Games are described as “a fight to the death” (Collins, 2008) to describe the events the selected people were to endure.

Historical Context

The historical context of “The Lottery” and “The Hunger Games” is similarly based on the purpose of the stories. In both stories, the practice of killing the people selected in the community is an awkward tradition whose belief systems are rooted in hypocrisy. Besides, in the respective stories, the brutal killing of the selected members is used to control the societies (Robinson, 2019). In “The Lottery,” the practice is used to maintain order in the community, while in “The Hunger Games,” the practice focuses on preventing the population from rebelling against the government.

However, the two stories differ based on the period they were published. Jackson’s book was written in 1948, a period when people were rooted in traditional practices. As a result, the readers can relate to the characters and the story’s events. On the contrary, “The Hunger Games” was written in 2008 but set in the future. Therefore, the futuristic nature of “The Hunger Games” makes it difficult for the reader to connect with the events and characters of the story.

Artistic Context

Comparing “The Lottery” and “The Hunger Games,” the two stories are similarly based on the target audience. Both pieces of writing target the general audience, more specifically, higher level audience. For instance, in-depth analysis is required for the audience to understand and synthesize both texts` meanings and main ideas. It is because both texts are works of art that incorporate different literary devices such as symbolism and suspense.

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However, the two stories are different based on the genre of each text. In particular, “The Lottery” is a short story, while “The Hunger Games is a novel. As such, “The Lottery” is shorter, and thus the author did not fully develop the plot and characters. On the other hand, “The Hunger Games” is longer, which implies that the author managed to develop the plot and characters in the story (Dzikriya, 2019). Therefore, “The Lottery” provides a preview of a historical moment while “The Hunger Games” provides a complete view of the described community.


In terms of the main idea of the stories, both “The Lottery” and “The Hunger Games” provide insights into the dangers of blindly following hypocritical traditions. Also, similarities and differences are evident in the plot, style, historical, and art context. Therefore, the comparative analysis of the two texts makes it possible to understand how they relate to each other despite being written in different periods.

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  1. Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, book one). Scholastic.
  2. Dzikriya, U. (2019). Analysis of Actantial Model in Suzanne Collins “The Hunger Games”. Rainbow: Journal of Literature, Linguistics and Culture Studies8(2), 85-94.
  3. Jackson, S. (1988). The Lottery. Robinson.
  4. Robinson, M. (2019). Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Holocaust Literature. Humanities8(1), 35. doi:10.3390/h8010035
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