“The Lottery”

A lottery is a game in which people pay to have a chance at winning a prize, often by selecting numbers or symbols randomly chosen by machines. While many state lotteries have different rules and procedures, they all share certain features. These include a mechanism for collecting money staked by participants; a pool or collection of tickets or their counterfoils from which winners are selected; a method of thoroughly mixing the tickets (sometimes through shaking or tossing); and some means of recording and verifying the identities of bettors, amounts staked, and numbers or symbols selected. Computers are increasingly used to record this information, but the human element is essential to ensuring that the results of a lottery are unbiased and fair.

The setting in “The Lottery” – a picturesque village populated by seemingly ordinary citizens – serves as a metaphor for society at large, illustrating how harmful traditions can persist even among small, peaceful-looking groups and individuals. Tessie Hutchinson’s horrifying fate, in which she is relegated to a life of misery and degradation, further highlights the importance of rejecting unjust authority and questioning outdated customs.

The story opens with Mr. Summers, the representative of authority in the lottery, carrying out a ritual that will determine the winner of this year’s prize. He holds up a black box and stirs up the papers inside it. The audience is lulled into a false sense of security by this idyllic imagery. It is only later, when the man of the family draws his paper, that readers realize that the lottery is far from innocent.