.......“The Lottery” is a short story in the horror genre. Critics generally consider it one of the finest
American short stories of the twentieth century.
Date of Publication
......."The Lottery" was published on June 26, 1948, in The New Yorker, a literary magazine. Its shocking ending horrified readers, who deluged the magazine with letters of complaint. Many readers cancelled their subscription to the magazine. After the hubbub subsided, critics realized what an outstanding short story it was. Today, the story appears in numerous anthologies for high school and college students.
The action takes place between 10 a.m. and noon on June 27, a sunny day, in a New England village. Characters
Bobby Martin: Boy who loads his pockets with stones that he will use after townspeople draw lottery numbers. He also helps build a pile of stones.
Baxter Martin: Older brother of Bobby Martin.
Harry Jones: Boy who joins Bobby Martin in building the pile of stones.
Dickie Delacroix: Boy who joins Bobby Martin and Harry Jones in building the pile of stones.
Mr. Martin: Bobby Martin's father. He operates a grocery store.
Mrs. Martin: Wife of Mr. Martin.
Joe Summers: Coal dealer who conducts the lottery. He has no children.
Mr. Summers's Wife: Shrewish woman.
Mr. Graves: Postmaster. He assists Mr. Summers.
Mrs. Graves: Wife of the postmaster.
Old Man Warner: Oldest man in town.
Tessie Hutchinson: Woman who arrives late for the lottery.
Bill Hutchinson: Husband of Mrs. Hutchinson.
Bill Jr., Nancy, Little Dave: Children of Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson.
School Friends of Nancy Hutchinson
Eva: Daughter of Bill and Tessie Hutchinson.
Don: Eva's husband.
Mrs. Delacroix: Mother of Dickie Delacroix.
Mr. Delacroix: Husband of Mrs. Delacroix.
Clyde Dunbar: Village resident who broke his leg and cannot attend the lottery.
Janey Dunbar: Wife of Clyde Dunbar. She draws for her husband.
Horace Dunbar: Son of Clyde and Janey Dunbar. Being under sixteen, he is not old enough to draw for his father.
Another Dunbar: Son of Clyde and Janey Dunbar.
Jack Watson: Teenager who draws for himself and his mother.
Mrs.Watson: Mother of the Watson boy.
Steve Adams: First villager to draw from the lottery box.
Mrs. Adams: Wife of Steve Adams.
Allen, Anderson, Bentham, Clarak: Residents who draw after Steve Adams.
Harburt, Jones, Overdyke, Percy, Zanini: Participants who draw next.
By Michael J. Cummings © 2004
Residents of a New England village gather at 10 a.m. on June 27 in the square between the post office and the bank for the annual lottery. A bright sun is shining down on fragrant flowers and green lawns while the townspeople–more than 300 of them–await the arrival of Mr. Summers and the black wooden box from which everyone is to draw a folded slip of paper. Adults chat while children play a game in which they gather stones. Whoever draws the slip of paper with the black dot on it will receive all of the lottery proceeds.
.......Over the years, the lottery rules and trappings remained the same except for minor changes:
Wood chips were replaced by the slips of paper, and ritual chants and salutes preceding the drawing were eliminated. Other than those modernizations, the same old rules prevailed year after year.
.......No one in the square knows why or under what circumstances the lottery began. All they know is that it is a tradition–a tradition that they are not willing to abandon.
.......After Mr. Summers shows up with the black box, he sets it down and prepares for the drawing. A housewife, Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, arrives late just then, telling Mrs. Delacroix that she
“Clean forgot what day it was” until she noticed that her children had left her house and remembered it was the day of the lottery.
.......Each of the townspeople draws a folded slip of paper but does not open it until everyone has drawn. When the big moment arrives, it is Tessie Hutchinson who has the paper with the black dot. Everyone then closes in on her, picks