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Mothers Handling Crisis in “the Lottery “ and “the Rocking-Horse Winner”

In: English and Literature

Submitted By papiblanco
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Hester and Tessie, two mothers challenges and how they face them. Hester is from Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Tessie is from D. H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner.”

Outline 1. Becoming a better mother thru a crisis Hester shows that she can be a good mother Tessie cares more about herself 2. First impressions are misleading. Hester seems cold and uncaring Tessie is warm and light hearted 3. Motherly instincts Hester grows here Tessie none are apparent in the end 4. Summary: As a mother Hester handles crisis better.

Mothers Handling Crisis in
“The Lottery “ and “The Rocking-Horse Winner” In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery and D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner” readers meet two mothers who handle crisis very differently. Both Tessie (The Lottery) and Hester (the Rocking-Horse Winner) are part of your typical American family. Each is married. Hester has three children and Tessie has four children. As each woman deals with a crisis that ends in death, it becomes apparent that Hester is the better mother. Both Jackson and Lawrence show how easy it is to misjudge someone. Hester is introduced as “She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her (Kennedy & Gioia 2010, 365)”. This is not how she portrayed herself. Everyone around her and her children thought she was a wonderful mother. “Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes (Kennedy & Gioia 2010, 365)”. This gives the reader the impression that Hester cold hearted and calculating. She is not a very good mother. Tessie is a much more likable, light hearted, caring mother. She gets to the lottery prior to the drawing but after the official has started speaking. She slides in at the back of the crowd and tells Mrs. Delacroix, “Clean forgot what day it was” (Kennedy & Gioia 2010, 215). They laugh and then she says “Thought my old man was out back stacking wood,” Mrs. Hutchinson went on , “and then I looked out the window and the kids were gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running” (Kennedy & Gioia 2010, 215). Tessie then looks for and finds her husband and children in the crowd and makes her way to them. Exchanges some light bantering with the crowd and lottery official and everyone laughs. Lawrence shows the reader a light hearted, charismatic, loving mother. She realizes what day it is only after checking on her children. After arriving at the lottery she looks for and finds her family. So far Tessie is the better mother. When the Hutchinson family is picked for the lottery the reader sees Tessie fail as a mother. She actually tries to have her oldest daughter (who is married and considered part of her husbands family) added to her families drawing to reduce her chances of winning the lottery. She is putting herself before her children. Hester actually grows here. She instinctively knows something is wrong with Paul her son. While she and her husband are out for the evening she even calls Miss Wilmot, the children’s nursery-governess to check on Paul and is told that he is fine. When they get home she is feels the need to check on him. She checks on him just prior to him collapsing. Lawrence puts it this way “Then he fell with a crash to the ground, and she, all her tormented motherhood flooding upon her, rushed to gather him up” (Kennedy & Gioia 2010, 374). The impression is that nothing else is more important than her son at that moment. Tessie wins the lottery and does not even tell her children goodbye or that she loves them. Perhaps she is in shock, she is about to be stoned. But what kind of mother would sacrifice her child for her own benefit. Hester even though she was angry let Bassett visit Paul, before he dies on the third day. Once these two women have these crises, they show their true colors. Hester was cold and distant. She only cared about her lifestyle and accomplishments. Once Paul begins his finale crazed rocking-horse ride and collapses she seems to realize that his condition is partly her fault. He immediately becomes the focus point of her life even above the large sum of money she get in the end. Tessie’s last impression to her children is a cold and unloving one. She shows a heart of stone and leaves her children with that image. Hester and Tessie are complete opposites. Hester is the better mother because in the end she loved and cared for her son. She sat with him for three days, while he tossed and turned unconsciously. She showed compassion by letting Bassett visit Paul, even though she is angry because of the gambling. Only an uncaring mother would try to sacrifice her child and only a loving mother would sit by a dying child for three days.


Kennedy, X. J. and Gioia, Dana. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing / Compact Interactive Edition, 6th ed. United States: Pearson, 2010.

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