Mr. Graves is the local postmaster and assists Mr. Summers in running the lottery each year, and both of these roles come with a degree of power that few men in the village seem to possess. In addition to controlling the flow of communication between the village and the outside world, his participation in setting up the lottery allows him to ensure that the tradition carries on. He is, after all, the one responsible for “the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summers” each year as the leader of the lottery, an act which essentially represents a giving of permission for the event to continue.
The true significance of Mr. Graves’s power over the town lies in his name. Mr. Graves serves as a symbol for the death that awaits the victims of the lottery. The tradition of the lottery and its gruesome ending has a tight hold over the people of the village, much like Mr. Graves does in his roles as postmaster and assistant lottery official. His increased involvement in the lottery proceedings toward the end of the story, when he helps the Hutchinsons draw slips of paper, foreshadows the notion that someone from their family is getting closer to their death. Overall, Mr. Graves’s character works to highlight just how much influence this annual and collective act of murder has over the community.