Study Guide

The Lottery Society and Class

By Shirley Jackson

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.