The Lottery

by: Shirley Jackson

Tessie Hutchinson

Characters Tessie Hutchinson

When Tessie Hutchinson arrives late to the lottery, admitting that she forgot what day it was, she immediately stands out from the other villagers as someone different and perhaps even threatening. Whereas the other women arrive at the square calmly, chatting with one another and then standing placidly by their husbands, Tessie arrives flustered and out of breath. The crowd must part for her to reach her family, and she and her husband endure good-natured teasing as she makes her way to them. On a day when the villagers’ single focus is the lottery, this breach of propriety seems inappropriate, even unforgivable; everyone comes to the lottery, and everyone comes on time. The only person absent is a man whose leg is broken. Although Tessie quickly settles into the crowd and joins the lottery like everyone else, Jackson has set her apart as a kind of free spirit who was able to forget about the lottery entirely as she performed her chores.

Perhaps because she is a free spirit, Tessie is the only villager to protest against the lottery. When the Hutchinson family draws the marked paper, she exclaims, “It wasn’t fair!” This refrain continues as she is selected and subsequently stoned to death, but instead of listening to her, the villagers ignore her. Even Bill tells her to be quiet. We don’t know whether Tessie would have protested the fairness of the lottery if her family had not been selected, but this is a moot point. Whatever her motivation is for speaking out, she is effectively silenced.