The Lottery

by: Shirley Jackson

Important Quotations Explained

1. 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.

This quotation, from the fifth paragraph of the story, reveals how firmly entrenched the villagers are in the lottery’s tradition and how threatening they find the idea of change. The villagers have no good reason for wanting to keep the black box aside from a vague story about the box’s origins, and the box itself is falling apart. Beyond shabby, it barely resembles a box now, but the villagers, who seem to take such pride in the ritual of the lottery, do not seem to care about the box’s appearance. They just want the box to stay the same. Their strident belief that the box must not change suggests that they fear change itself, as though one change might lead to other changes. Already, some towns have stopped holding lotteries, but these villagers do not seem to be headed in that direction. Instead, they hold firm to the parts of the tradition that remain, afraid to alter even this seemingly insignificant part of it for fear of starting down a slippery slope.