The Issue of Conformity in Sylvia Plath’s Initiation, Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron, and Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

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Many people may not realize it but conformity has become a big problem in some of the societies in the world. Take the Middle East for example. They cover the women in black clothing from head to toe when it is practically 100 degrees there all the time. Plus, they act like the women don’t even have a voice and they have more than one wife at a time. They act like women are just a toy and they don’t matter. The terrible part is that the women are okay with it and they go along with it. If that isn’t conformity I don’t know what is. What do you think? What is conformity?

In the story “Initiation” by Silvia Plath, Millicent is a teenage girl who is pressured to join a high school sorority. Over the course of the story, Millicent has a series of epiphanies that show her the value of being herself over conforming to what the sorority wants her to do. The first difficult decision Millicent faces is choosing between her longtime friend, Tracy, or her new friends. “It won’t be any different with us, Tracy,” Millicent had told her. Early in the story. Millicent says to Tracy, “We’ll still go around together like we always have, and next year you’ll surely get in.”

Tracy then replies, “I know, but even so…you’ll change whether you think you will or not. Nothing ever stays the same.” Millicent is working to reassure Tracy in this quote but Tracy is doubtful. Bev makes Millicent perform a humiliating task of asking people on a public bus what they had to eat for breakfast that morning. A strange little man in a green suit tells her he had “Heather birds eye brows on toast.” Millicent experiences an epiphany when she thinks, “Really, you didn’t have to belong to a club to feel related to other human beings.” The little man makes Millicent realize that she can be individual and doesn’t have to belong to conform to the sorority’s pressures and requirements.

In the story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, there is a big price to pay forbeing extraordinarily beautiful, smart, or strong. In the year 2081 it is practically a crime to be good at anything. Harrison Bergeron, son of George and Hazel Bergeron, is 14- years-old, 7ft tall, extremely smart and in jail. What is the cost of conforming in this society? Once someone conforms in this society they begin to believe putting someone in a permanent mask is okay and that if things were to go back to the way they were they used to be it’d be the worst thing that ever happened.

When talk about trying to get rid of some of his handicaps, George Bergeron says, “If I tried to get away with it then other people’d try get away with it and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?” “I’d hate it,” said Hazel. They act like it would be the complete end of the world for things to go back to the way they used to be. A little competition in life is better than having to handicap almost every person in the human race. So what is the cost of conformity? The cost of conformity is thinking that things are going amazing when things are really going terrible.

In the story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, once every year on June 26th at 10am the children are called, the men gather, and the women stop their work to meet in the town square. The “lottery” could last up to 2 days. It’s one of the biggest events of the year. Since everyone in the town conforms, the “lottery” still happens every year. Mr. Summers brings out the box and the stool to do the drawing. Truthfully, the “lottery” isn’t a lottery isn’t a lottery at all. In this lottery if your name is drawn, you are stoned to death.

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The Issue of Conformity in Sylvia Plath’s Initiation, Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron, and Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. (2023, May 15). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-issue-of-conformity-in-sylvia-plaths-initiation-kurt-vonneguts-harrison-bergeron-and-shirley-jacksons-the-lottery/

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