the lottery

By Jean Rose,2014-10-11 18:14
7 views 0
the lottery

The Lottery

    The morning of June 27th was clear and sunnywith the fresh

    warmth of a full-summer daythe flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly greenThe people of the village began to gather in the squarebetween the post office and the bankaround

    ten o‟clockin some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26thbut in this village

    where there were only about three hundred peoplethe whole lottery

    took less than two hoursso it could begin at ten oclock in the

     morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get

     home for noon dinner

     The children assembled firstof courseSchool was recently over for

    the summerand the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them

    they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke

     into boisterous playand their talk was still of the classroom and the

    of books and reprimandsBobby Martin had already stuffed teacher

     his pockets full of stonesand the other boys soon followed his

     example,selecting the smoothest and roundest stonesBobby and

     the villagers pronounced this Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix

     name “Dellacroy” eventually made a great pile of stones in one

     corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other

     boysThe girls stood asidetalking among themselveslooking over

     their shoulders at the boysand the very small children rolled in the

     dust or clung to the hands of their older brothers or sisters.

     Soon the men began to gathersurveying their own children

    speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxesThey stood together

     away from the pile of stones in the cornerand their jokes

     were quiet and they smiled rather than laughedThe womenwearing

    faded house dresses and sweaterscame shortly after their men-

    folkThey greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they

     went to join their husbandsSoon the womenstanding by their

     husbands, began to call to their childrenand the children came

     reluctantlyhaving to be called four or five timesBobby Martin

     ducked under his mother‟s grasping hand and ranlaughingback to

     the pile of stonesHis father spoke up sharplyand Bobby came

     quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother

     The lottery was conducted as were the square dances, the teenage club

    the Halloween program by Mr.Summers, who had time

     and energy to devote to civic activitiesHe was a round-facedjovial

     man and he ran the coal businessand people were sorry for him

    because he had no children and his wife was a scoldWhen he

     arrived in the squarecarrying the black wooden boxthere was a

     murmur of conversation among the villagers, and he waved and

     called“Little late todayfolks The postmasterMr.Graves,

    followed himcarrying a three-legged stooland the stool was put in

    the center of the square and Mr.Summers set the black box down on itThe villagers kept their distanceleaving a space between themselves and the stooland when Mr.Summers said:“Some of you

    fellows want to give me a hand?‟‟ there was a hesitation before two

     menMr.Martin and his oldest sonBaxtercame forward to hold

    the box steady on the stool while Mr.Summers stirred up the papers inside it

     The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago

    and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use

    the oldest man in town, was born even before Old Man Warner

    Mr.Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box

    but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented

     by the black boxThere was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village hereEvery yearafter the lotteryMr.Summers began talking

    again about a new boxbut every year the subject was allowed to

    The black box grew shabbier fade off without anything‟s being done

    each yearby now it was no longer completely black but splintered

    and in some badly along one side to show the original wood color

    places faded or stained

     Mr.Martin and his oldest sonBaxterheld the black box securely

    on the stool until Mr.Summers had stirred the papers thoroughly with his handBecause so much of the ritual hadbeen forgotten or

    discardedMr.Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of woodMr.Summers had arguedhad been all very well

    when the village was tinybut now that the population was more

    than three hundred and likely to keep on growingit was necessary to

    use something that would fit more easily into the black boxThe night

    before the lotteryMr.Summers and Mr.Graves made up the slips of paper and put them in the boxand it was then taken to the safe of

    Mr.Summers‟ coal company and locked up until Mr.Summers was ready to take it to the square next morningThe rest of the yearthe

    box was put awaysometimes one placesometimes anotherit had

    spent one year in Mr.Graves‟s barn and another year underfoot in

    the post officeand sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there

    There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr.Summers declared the lottery openThere were the lists to make up-of heads of families, heads of households in each familymembers of each

household in each familyThere was the proper swearing-in of

    Mr.Summers by the postmasteras the official of the lotteryat one time

    some people rememberedthere had been a recital of some sort

    performed by the official of the lotterya perfunctorytuneless chant

    that had been rattled off duly each yearsome people believed that

    the official of the lottery used to stand just so when he said or sang it, others believed that he was supposed to walk among the peoplebut

     years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse. There had beenalso, a ritual salute, which the official of the lottery

     had had to use in addressing each person who came up to draw from the boxbut this also had changed with timeuntil now it was felt

     necessary only for the official to speak to each person approaching.

    Summers was very good at all thisin his clean white shirt and Mr.

     blue jeanswith one hand resting carelessly on the black box. He

     seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr.Graves and the Martins

     Just as Mr.Summers finally left off talking and turned to the

     assHutchinson came hurriedly along the path mbled villagersMrs.

     to the squareher sweater thrown over her shouldersand slid into

     place in the back of the crowd“Clean forgot what day it was” she

    t to herand they both laughed said to Mrs. Delacroixwho stood nex

     softly“Thought my old man was out back stacking wood”Mrs.

    the Huthinson went on“and then I looked out the window and

     kids were goneand then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh

     and came a-running.‟‟ She dried her hands on her apron, and Mrs. Delacroix said“You‟re in timethoughThey‟re still talking away

     up there.

     Mrs. Hutchinson craned her neck to see through the crowd and

     found her husband and children standing near the frontShe tapped

     Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way

     through the crowd. The people separated good humoredly to let her

     through; two or three people saidin voices just loud enough to be

     heard across the crowd“Here comes your MissusHutchinson and

    “Bill, she made it after all. Mrs. Hutchinson reached her husband

    and Mr. Summerswho had been waitingsaid cheerfully“Thought

     we were going to have to get on without youTessie.‟‟ Mrs.Hutchinson

    saidgrinning“Wouldn‟t have me leave my dishes in the sinknow, would

    youJoe?‟‟ and soft laughter ran through the crowd as

     the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson‟s arrival.

    “Wellnow Mr. Summers said soberly“guess we better get

    startedget this over withso we can go back to workAnybody ain‟t


     “Dunbar. several people said“DunbarDunbar

     Mr. Summers consulted his list“Clyde Dunbar he said“That‟s

rightHe‟s broke his leghasn‟t he? Who‟s drawing for him?”

     “MeI guess, a woman saidand Mr. Summers turned to look at her“Wife draws for her husband Mrs. Summers said„„Don‟t you

    have a grown boy to do it for youJaney?” Although Mr. Summers

     and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly wellit

     was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions

    formallyMr. Summers waited with an expression of polite interest

     while Mrs.Dunbar answered

     “Horace‟s not but sixteen yet Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully,

    “Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year

     “Right Mr. Summers said. He made a note on the list he was

     holdingThen he asked“Watson boy drawing this year?“

    “Here, he said“I‟m A tall boy in the crowd raised his hand

     drawing for m‟mother and me.‟‟ He blinked his eyes nervously and

     ducked his head as several voices in the crowd said things like “Good

    fellow, Jack,'‟ and “Glad to see your mother‟s got a man to do it.”

     “Well, Mr. Summers said“guess that‟s everyoneOld Man

     Warner make it?‟‟

     “Here a voice saidand Mr. Summers nodded

     A sudden hush fell on the crowd as Mr. Summers cleared his throat

     “All ready?” he called“NowI'll read the and looked at the list

     names heads of families first and the men come up and take a

    Keep the paper folded in your hand without paper out of the box

     looking at it until everyone has had a turnEverything clear?”

     The people had done it so many times that they only half listened

     to the directionsmost of them were quietwetting their lipsnot

     looking aroundThen Mr. Summers raised one hand high and said

    “Adams A man disengaged himself from the crowd and came

     forward“Hi, Steve Mr. Summers saidand Mr. Adams said„'Hi

    Joe.”They grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously. Then Mr. Adams reached into the black box and took out a folded paper. He held it firmly by one corner as he turned and went hastily back to

     his place in the crowdwhere he stood a little apart from his family

    not looking down at his hand

     “Allen Mr. Summers said“Anderson,,,Bentham?‟‟

     “Seems like there‟s no time at all between lotteries any more”Mrs.

    Delacroix said to Mrs. Graves in the back row“Seems like we got

     through with the last one only last week‟‟

     “Time sure goes fast”Mrs. Graves said


    “There goes my old man Mrs. Delacroix saidShe held her

    breath while her husband went forward

     “Dunbar Mr. Summers saidand Mrs. Dunbar went steadily to the box while one of the women said“Go onJaney‟‟ and another

said“There she goes

     “We‟re next. Mrs. Graves saidShe watched while Mr. Graves came around from the side of the boxgreeted Mr. Summers gravely

    and selected a slip of paper from the boxBy now, all through the crowd there were men holding the small folded papers in their large

    handsturning them over and over nervouslyMrs. Dunbar and her two sons stood togetherMrs. Dunbar holding the slip of paper


     “Get up thereBill Mrs. Hutchinson said, and the people near

    her laughed


     “They do say”Mr. Adams said to Old Man Warner, who stood next to him„„that over in the north village they‟re talking of giving

    ‟‟ up the lottery

     O1d Man Warner snorted. “Pack of crazy fools he said“Listening to the young folksnothing‟s good enough for themNext thing

     you knowthey‟ll be wanting to go back to living in cavesnobody

    1ive that way for a whileUsed to be a saying about work any more

    „Lottery in Junecorn be heavy soon First thing you knowwe‟d all

     be eating stewed chickweed and acornsThere‟s always been a

    lottery he added petulantlyBad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking

    with everybody

     Mrs. Adams said Some places have already quit lotteries

     “Nothing but trouble in that” Old Man Warner said stoutly

    “Pack of young fools‟‟

     “Martin And Bobby Martin watched his father go forward


     “I wish they‟d hurry Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son“I wish

    they‟d hurry‟‟

     “They‟re almost through her son said

     “You get ready to run tell Dad MrsDunbar said

     Mr. Summers called his own name and then stepped forward

     precisely and selected a slip from the boxThen he called“Warner‟‟

     “Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery Old Man Warner said

     as he went through the crowd“Seventy-seventh time‟‟

     “Watson The tall boy came awkwardly through the crowd

    Someone said„„Don‟t be nervousJack and Mr. Summers said

    “Take your time, son


    After thatthere was a long pausea breathless pauseuntil Mr

    Summers holding his slip of paper in the airsaid“All right

    fellows For a minuteno one movedand then all the slips of paper were openedSuddenlyall the women began to speak at once, saying”Who is it?” “ Who‟s got it?” “Is it the Dunbars?” “Is it the

    Watsans?‟‟ Then the voices began to say“It‟s HutchinsonIt‟s Bill “Bill Hutchinson‟s got it‟‟

     “Go tell your father Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son

     People began to look around to see the HutchinsonsBill Hutchinson was standing quietstaring down at the paper in his handSuddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers„„You didn‟t give him time enough to

    take any paper he wantedI saw you. It wasn‟t fair‟‟

     “Be a good sportTessie Mrs. Delacroix calledand Mrs. Graves

     said“All of us took the same chance

     “Shut upTessie Bill Hutchinson said

     “Welleveryone Mr. Summers said“that was done pretty fast and now we‟ve got to be hurrying a little more to get done in time?”

    he said“you draw for the Hutchinson familyYou He consulted his next listBill

    got any other households in the Hutchinsons?‟‟

     “There‟s Don and Eva MrsHutchinson yelled„„Make them take

     their chance!”

     “Daughters draw with their husbands‟ familiesTessie Mr.Summers

    “You know that as well as anyone else said gently

     „„It wasn‟t fair”Tessie said

     “I guess notJoe”Bill Hutchinson said regretfully“My daughter

    husband‟s familythat‟s only fairAnd I've got no draws with her

     other family except the kids

    As far as drawing for families is concernedit‟s you “Then

    Mr. Summers said in explanation“and as far as drawing for households

     is concernedthat‟s youtoo. Right?”

     “Right Bill Hutchinson said

     “How many kidsBill?” Mr. Summers asked formally

     “Three Bill Hutchinson said“There‟s BillJr.and Nancyand

     little DaveAnd Tessie and me

     “All rightthen Mr. Summers said“Harryyou got their tickets


     Mr.Graves nodded and held up the slips of paper“Put them in

     the boxThen. Mr.Summers directed“Take Bill‟s and put it in

     “I think we ought to start over Mrs. Hutchinson saidas quietly

     as she could“I tell you it wash‟t fairYou didn‟t give him time

     enough to chooseEverybody saw that‟‟

     Mr. Graves had selected the five slips and put them in the boxand

     he dropped all the papers but those onto the groundwhere the

     breeze caught them and lifted them off

     “Listeneverybody Mrs. Hutchinson was saying to the people

    around her

    “ReadyBill?” Mr. Summers askedand Bill Hutchinsonwith one quick glance around at his wife and childrennodded

    “Remember Mr. Summers said“take the slips and keep them

folded until each person has taken oneHarryyou help 1ittle Dave.”

    Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boywho came willingly with

    him up to the box“Take a paper out of the boxDavy Mr.Summers

    saidDavy put his hand into the box and laughed“Take just one paper

    MrSummers said“Harryyou hold it for him" MrGraves took the child‟s

    hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave

    stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly

     “Nancy next MrSummers saidNancy was twelveand her

     school friends breathed heavily as she went forwardswitching her

     skirt, and took a slip daintily from the box“BillJr,! MrSummers

     said, and Billyhis face red and his feet over-largenearly knocked

     the box over as he got a paper out“Tessie MrSummers saidShe

    and then set her lips hesitated for a minutelooking around defiantly

     and went up to the boxShe snatched a paper out and held it behind


     “Bill, MrSummers saidand Bill Hutchinson reached into the

     box and felt around, bringing his hand out at last with the slip of

     it paper in

    The crowd was quietA girl whispered„„I hope it‟s not Nancy

    and the sound of the whisper reached the edges of the crowd

     “It‟s not the way it used to be Old Man Warner said clearly

    “People ain‟t the way they used to be‟‟

     Mr. Summers said. “Open the papers Harryyou open “A11 right

     little Dave‟s

    MrGraves opened the slip of paper and there was a general Sigh

     through the crowd as he held it up and everyone could see that it was

     blank Nancy and BillJr,!opened theirs at the same timeand both

     beamed and 1aughedturning around to the crowd and holding their

     slips of paper above their heads

     “Tessie MrSummers saidThere was a pauseand then Mr.

    Summers looked at Bill Hutchinsonand Bill unfolded his paper and

     showed itIt was blank

     „„It‟s Tessie MrSummers saidand his voice was hushed“Show

     us her paperBill‟‟

     Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her handIt had a black spot on itthe black spot MrSummers had made the night before

    with the heavy pencil in the coal-company officeBill Hutchinson held it upand

    there was a stir in the crowd

    “All right, folks,” Mr. Summers said. “ Let‟s finish quickly.”

    Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they

    still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box. Mrs. Delacroix

    Selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs.

Dunbar. “Come on,” she said. “Hurry up.”

     Mrs. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said, grasping for breath, “ I can‟t run at all. You‟ll have to go ahead and I‟ll cat h up with you.”

     The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

     Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn‟t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head.

     Old Man Warner was saying,” Come on, come on, everyone.” Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.

     “It isn‟t fair, it isn‟t right,Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon


“The Lottery” centers on action and mystery almost to the exclsion of individual

    characterization. Of all the townspeople, Old Man Warner alone stands out as a distinguishable figure. Even he is a type: the “Old Man,” fiercely proud of his past, dismissing as “ young fools” all those who would change things. The rest are simply

    members of a small farming community, so like each other that one description often serves for all. Thus, “ the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five

    times,” and “the people …that they only half listened to the directionsmost of them

    wetting their lipsnot looking around” These descriptions, moreover, were quiet

    center on observable facts: the number of times the children have to be called, the posture and nervous motions of the villagers. We are told almost nothing about the villagers‟ thoughts and emotions that any reporter at the scene of the lottery could not have told us

     The narrator can tell us facts about the lottery, however, which only a very well informed reporter could supplyShe can inform us that “the

     original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost 10ng ago that the

    current black box (which “had been put into use even before Old Man

    Warnerthe oldest man in the townwas born”) is still used because “no

     one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box She

    knows what parts of the ritual have been lost and what parts are imperfectly remembered(and from time to timeshe doles out some bit of this information as

    background to the unfolding ritual

     Does the narrator also know why the lottery was originally instituted

    or what this group of villagerswho have lost so much of its historythink

    it accomplishes? If she doesshe doesn‟t tell usThe narrator creates

     suspense by describing in a calmmatter-of-fact way the matter-of-fact

     behavior of a group of undemonstrative peopleThe people are engaged

     in some poorly defined event that seems to represent a mildly exciting

     once-a-year break in their normal routineThereforeour suspense comes largely

    from the fact that we feel ourselves to be the only people who don‟t know what‟s

    going on(Until Tessie Hutchinson first cries “It wasn‟t fair,” for instance, we don‟t

    even know whether the “winner” of this lottery is lucky or unlucky) And so we keep

waiting for the explanationwhich never comes

     We are given some clues as to what‟s going on(but the author slips

     them in so quietly that we may not realize that they are clues until we

     read the story a second timeThe “pile of stones for instanceis intro-

    duced as though it were merely part of the children‟s “boisterous play‟‟(

    “Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix…eventually made a

     great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the

     raids of the other boys Not until the very end of the story do we find

     out the significance of those stones(“Although the villagers had forgot-

    ten the ritual and lost the original black boxthey still remembered to use

     stones But we still are not told what meaning if any the townsfolk find in

    their use

    We have to fill in that fact for We are not even told directly that Tessie is killed

    ourselvesan act of participation which for some readers adds a last gruesome twist to

    the end of the storyTessie‟s protests have warned us that the lottery ends badly for the chosen oneBut many readers still have trouble at first realizing just how badly it

    does endespecially since the narrator's calmreportorial voice never changes its

    reporting as objectively as ever the women‟s conversation and the fact that tone

    “someone gave little Daw Hutchinson a few pebbles The almost casual

    acceptance by villagers and narrator alike of the stoning to death of a woman by her

    neighbors and family throws the full burden of reaction on uswhile the “just plain

    folks”characterization of the villagers forces us to interpret the action in the broadest

    possible termsasking not only“Can these villagers really be doing this?” but also

    “Do people really act this way?”

     All the unanswered questions rise at this pointWhy are these people

    doing this thing? How do they justify it to themselves?

     The style of “The Lottery” has been unrelentingly realistic throughout, and its ending is a deliberate shockAll along we‟ve been feeling“Yesa group of neighbors

    would behave as this group behaves. What a careful observer this writer iswhat a

    fine eye for details of behavior she has Now we want to say“Noshe‟s mistaken

    they wouldn‟t do that‟‟ But the acceptance we‟ve given the story so farlinked with

    our own knowledge of the ways people do behave toward each othermakes

    our rebellion all but impossibleWe can dismiss the actual detailsritual

     stonings rarely occur in the twentieth centuryBut we cannot dimiss the

     symbolic import of the actionnor escape the grim vision of human nature that “The

    Lottery‟s action and narrator thrust upon us. Good humor and neighborliness are part of that visionbut what else is there? How would you personally interpret “The


秀丽?杰克逊?Shirley Jackson







Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email