The Lottery

by: Shirley Jackson

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
3. Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.

This quotation, which appears near the end of the story, distills the lottery down to its essence: murder. The villagers may talk of tradition, ritual, and history, but the truth—as this quotation makes clear—is that the traditional parts of it have long been discarded. The original ritual and box may indeed have borne along a tradition, violent and bizarre as it may be, but now, without the original trappings, songs, and procedures, all that remains is the violence. The haphazard ritual, the bits and pieces that have been slapped together into some semblance of the original, have led to this essential moment of killing. The villagers are all too eager to embrace what remains, eagerly picking up the stones and carrying on the “tradition” for another year.