Scapegoats and Scapegoating

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Narration and depiction of a scapegoat is found throughout literature that partially or fully build up as a tragedy The three stories that we examine here are Ursula Le Guin’s The Ones who walk away from Omelas, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane.LeGuin’s story The Ones who walk away from Omelas presents a picture of a utopian city, governed by an underlying understanding that despite the moral repulsion of heaping torture upon one individual, it is a necessity for the mental well being of the many, so that the utopian condition of the city might be preserved. The story encapsulates the full beauty and horror of a society in which the good of the many occurs at the expense of the suffering of a small minority. The abused child in the basement from that story became a kind of shorthand for the disadvantaged in our discussions of social equity as it applies to all citizens. (Adams, and Pugh 65) Similarly, Jackson’s The Lottery is based upon the theme of one individual becoming a scapegoat to support a group mechanism for the sacrifice of one to preserve the happiness of many. Crane’s The Blue Hotel shows a self-selecting scapegoat who by rubbing in his difference creates a collusive communal reaction leading to his death.LeGuin’s story suggests an idyllic existence in a culture of a prosperous and sophisticated people, much given to carnivals, parades, and festivals of all kinds where their leaders are wise and free of corruption. A picture of a crime-free society where there are no wants or distress of any kind. The shocking contrast comes when the existence of a single child locked in filthy, miserable conditions within a broom closet is revealed to the reader.In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room.