Last Updated 06 Jul 2020

Essay Summary of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson opens on a warm June day in a town of about three hundred people, and describes an annual event in the town, a tradition that is apparently widespread among surrounding villages as well. While the townspeople, more than 300, 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.

The event for which they gather is a lottery conducted by Mr. Summers, a neatly dressed, jovial business man with a wife, but no children. Although many traditional customs associated with the lottery seemed to have been lost over time, Mr. Summers still has ''a great deal of fussing to be done'' before he declares the lottery open. He has created lists of households, including the heads of households in each family, and members of each household in each family.

Just as Mr. Summers turned to the assembled villagers, Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, a house wife, 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. Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson than makes her way through the crowd to her husband, while the villagers comment on her arrival.

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Mr. Summers begins the necessity of confirming everyone’s attendance, and clarifying whom will represent the family. When everything is finalized , each representative is called up one after another, and nervously draws a folded slip of paper from the black box. While people are called up, one of the villagers presents the idea of other towns giving up the lottery. Old Man Warner snorts in reply, “Pack of crazy fools, Listening to young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work anymore, live that way for awhile. Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' First thing you know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There's always been a lottery." This statement sets the importance of this annual event, and the strong beliefs of the town.

When the big moment arrives, everyone is silent until the name of Bill Hutchinson rapidly spreads throughout the crowd. Tessie Hutchinson, Bill’s wife, shouts out to Mr. Summers that he didn’t give Bill enough time, and that its not fair. Tessie is silenced, and Mr. summers recons for the family of Bill Hutchinson to come forward. Bill, Tessie, and their three children than proceed as every family of the lottery ever has, and draws a new folded piece of paper from the black box. One by one the family unfolds their piece of paper to determine the sacrificed. Tessie Hutchinson , the declared winner, was led to the center of a cleared space, and with her hands desperately held out in front of her she was hit with the first stone. Everyone then closed in on her, picked up the rocks, the “proceeds” of the lottery, and stones her to death. “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual, and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.”

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Essay Summary of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. (2017, Mar 30). Retrieved from

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