A Comparison of the Stories “The Pedestrian”, “To Build a Fire”, “The Lottery,” and “The Flowers”

Heading into the final weeks of the semester, we read a few short stories written by various authors. We read “The Flowers,” by Alice Walker, “The Pedestrian,” by Ray Bradbury, “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, and “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London, along with a few others. Among these short stories, it was noticed that they all share common themes: misplaced trust can cause bad things to happen, and ignorance can often blind you.

The theme of misplaced trust can result in bad things can be found through an example in “The Flowers,” by Alice Walker. Myop, a young girl is described to be running through the woods, something she often does. “Often, in late autumn, her mother took her to gather nuts among the fallen leaves. Today she made her own path, bouncing this way and that way, vaguely keeping an eye out for snakes” this shows she is placing her trust into the woods as she has been through it many times before, and shows no worry about her surroundings, even for snakes (Walker). “Her heel became lodged in the broken ridge between brow and nose, and she reached down quickly, unafraid, to free herself. It was only when she saw his naked grin that she gave a little yelp of surprise” (Walker). This quote shows that Myop was naive in realizing her surrounding, when she stumbles upon a dead man and only realizes it when she needs to free herself from his rotting skull.

“The Pedestrian,” by Ray Bradbury, relates to both themes as well, as it shows how society has put all of their trust into the essentially non-existent government, and get pulled into their televisions, making them ignorant to the things going on around them. Throughout the story, the man is being harassed by a police car, however, there is no one inside the vehicle, only a voice behind a microphone. He is deemed a threat to society as he decides to go out on a walk, rather than stay inside his home and watch TV. Those living in their homes, glued to their televisions become ignorant to the rapidly changing world around them, as more and more people turn to their TVs, and abandon the outside world.

“The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, relates to ignorance blinding you by describing how some can be perfectly okay with what happens to others, as long as it doesn’t happen to them. An example of this would be when Tessie is okay with the Lottery until her husband is the one who draws the paper with the coal dot. When she finds out it is him, she exclaims how it is unfair and that he didn’t have a fair chance to choose a slip of paper, however, if it had been someone else, she would not have the same reaction and would be perfectly fine with what followed. The story also relates to the theme of misplaced trust by showing how those people placed their trust in the government to keep the lottery going, but with that trust, could come to an enormous consequence: choosing the slip of paper with the coal dot.

Finally, “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London, shows examples of ignorance being blinding when the man is too prideful to stop and build a fire at first, even though he is cold and frigid. He walks for miles, ignoring the cold, until he ignorantly steps on the ice and falls into the cold water, and realizes he needs to build a fire quickly to warm up before hypothermia begins to kick in. London’s story also portrays mistrust causing problems, when the man puts his trust into the fire burning and keeping him warm, and suddenly snow falls from a branch and smothers the fire. Mistrust can also be seen in the story when the dog trusts the man to build a fire to keep the two of them warm, but the man ends up failing to build a fire and eventually dies, leaving the dog to fend for itself and find camp on its own.

The four short stories all show themes of ignorance being blinding and misplacing trust can be problematic in different ways, but nonetheless, it still follows. Though the authors wrote completely different stories, they all seem to follow the lines of the themes, also they are relevant in today’s world, where people are too ignorant to realize what is going on around them, as well as they misplace their trust in those who should never be trusted in the first place.