Study Guide

The Lottery Quotes

  • Family

    "The Lottery"
    Mr. (Joe) Summers

    "Daughters draw with their husbands' families, Tessie," Mr. Summers said gently. "You know that as well as anyone else." (51)

    This passage is simply more evidence that the villagers are organized as a patriarchy. Families are defined by male heads of household.

    Tess Hutchinson

    Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly. Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!" (46)

    Is Tess defending her family, or is she more concerned about her own fate?

    "There's Don and Eva," Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. "Make them take their chance!"

    "Daughters draw with their husbands' families, Tessie," Mr. Summers said gently. "You know that as well as anyone else." (50)

    This passage answers the previous question – Tess Hutchinson is clearly willing to sacrifice members of her own family if it means she can avoid the lottery.

    And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles. (78)

    The lottery encourages family member to turn on family member.

    The Delacroix Family

    "There goes my old man." Mrs. Delacroix said. She held her breath while her husband went forward. (26)

    Mrs. Delacroix is not nervous on behalf of her husband, but rather on behalf of herself.

  • Hypocrisy

    "The Lottery"
    Tess Hutchinson

    "Get up there, Bill," Mrs. Hutchinson said. (30)

    This passage demonstrates Mrs. Hutchinson's eagerness to participate in the lottery. She actually encourages her husband forward, contrary to her later protests that he was not given enough time.

    "There's Don and Eva," Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. "Make them take their chance!"

    "Daughters draw with their husbands' families, Tessie," Mr. Summers said gently. "You know that as well as anyone else." (50)

    Tess Hutchinson is clearly willing to sacrifice members of her own family if it means she can avoid the lottery.

    "It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her. (80)

    Mrs. Hutchinson is protesting only because the violence has become personal. She would have been perfectly fine with the idea of being one of the attackers.

    The Delacroix Family

    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." (76)

    Mrs. Delacroix was such a sweet friend to Tess at the beginning of the story, but her true nature is revealed here.

    "Clean forgot what day it was," she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly. (8)

    This moment of friendship is later exposed to be hollow and meaningless.

  • Tradition and Customs

    "The Lottery"

    Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. (76)

    This passage implies that the villagers derive a certain amount of enjoyment out of the stoning. Why else would it be a fundamental aspect of the ritual?

    There was the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summers by the postmaster, as the official of the lottery; at one time, some people remembered, there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory. tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year; some 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 people, but years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse. (7)

    All this hullabaloo lends the lottery a distinctly official quality. We learn later that beneath this veneer of civility is simply community-sanctioned violence.

    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 even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. 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 box. (5)

    The villagers are extremely resistant to change, although as seen in other passages, the lottery is not without its detractors.

    Chips of wood, Mr. Summers had argued. had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing, it was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into the black box. (6)

    Mr. Summers takes his job very seriously and does not mind amending old customs as he sees fit.

    The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock. (1)

    The lottery follows a tried-and-true process, the beginning of which we see here.

    There had been, also, a ritual salute, which the official of the lottery had had to use in addressing each person who came up to draw from the box, but this also had changed with time, until now it was felt necessary only for the official to speak to each person approaching. (7)

    The lottery has evolved over time, yet there are fundamental elements of it that the villagers would never consider changing.

  • Society and Class

    "The Lottery"
    Tess Hutchinson

    "It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her. (80)

    Mrs. Hutchinson is protesting only because the violence has become personal. She would have been perfectly fine with the idea of being one of the attackers.

    The crowd was quiet. A 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." (68 – 69)

    We assume from this statement that people used to be much more accepting of the lottery's results. This may signal the community's potential for doing away with the lottery entirely.

    The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock. (1)

    This passage establishes the village as generic – it has a square, a post office, and a bank, all quite ordinary fixtures of a small town.

    The lottery was conducted – as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program – by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. (4)

    The lottery occupies the same position in this society as does square dances, the teen club, and the Halloween program. This is one of those details that become horrible only once you discover the purpose of the lottery.

    Mr. (Joe) Summers

    "Well, now." Mr. Summers said soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work. " (10)

    This is a hard-working society. So hard-working, in fact, that murdering one of their members needs to take place on a timetable.