The Lottery Summary
By Shirley Jackson
On a warm day in late June (the 27th, to be exact), villagers gather in the square to participate in a lottery run by Mr. Summers, who officiates at all the big civic events. The children arrive first and begin collecting stones until their parents call them to order. Mrs. Hutchinson arrives late and chats briefly with her friend, Mrs. Delacroix.
The lottery is conducted by Mr. Summers, who has no children and whose wife is unpleasant. He is assisted by Mr. Graves, who follows him to bring the stool upon which Mr. Summers places a very worn black box. The black box used for the lottery is even older than the oldest town citizen, Old Man Warner. Mr. Summers stirs the slips of paper inside the black box. Originally, chips of wood were used, but as the town’s population increased, Mr. Summers was forced to switch to paper in order to fit all of the slips inside the box.
Before commencing the lottery, several lists had to be made: heads of households, heads of families, and members of each family. Mr. Summers efficiently tends to all of the details and prepares to start the lottery. Mrs. Tess Hutchinson is nearly late, but she arrives just in time to join her family in the crowd. She stands next to her husband, Bill, and their children.
Mr. Summers makes sure that everyone who needs to be at the lottery is present and accounts for those who are unable to attend. Then, the lottery begins.
Mr. Summers begins to call the names of each family alphabetically, and each head of the household, usually the husband and father, comes forward to take a slip of paper from the black box. As this happens, Mr. Adams mentions to Old Man Warner that a nearby village is considering giving up the lottery. Old Man Warner expresses derision for this suggestion, calling those people a “pack of young fools” (216).
Once all of the heads of households receive slips, they simultaneously check them. Bill Hutchinson has selected the special slip, and his family is singled out. Tess Hutchinson expresses her discontent and accuses Mrs. Summers of not giving her husband enough time to select his slip. Nonetheless, Mr. Summers rearranges the box so that it holds only five slips for the Hutchinson family. The family comes forth, and each of them, Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson and their three children, select one of the five slips in the box.
One by one, the children, then Mr. Hutchinson, reveal that their slips of paper are blank. The town realizes that Tess holds the remaining piece of paper with the black dot. The villagers start to collect stones, Mrs. Delacroix selecting one that is so large she can hardly carry it. As Tess Hutchinson protests, everyone, even her own children and husband, descend upon her and stone her to death.