The Lottery

by: Shirley Jackson

Family

Quotes Family
“There goes my old man,” Mrs. Delacroix said. She held her breath while her husband went forward.

As Mr. Delacroix walks up to draw his piece of paper, his wife looks on in anticipation. While readers do not know at this point the meaning of the lottery, whether being chosen will result in something good or bad, Mrs. Delacroix knows that the fate of her family will be determined by the paper her husband draws. Rather than starting by singling out an individual, the lottery works by targeting one family and then choosing someone from that family to kill.

“Daughters draw with their husbands’ families, Tessie,” Mr. Summers said gently. “You know that as well as anyone else.”

After Bill Hutchinson draws the slip of paper marked with his family name, Mr. Summers asks if there are any other Hutchinson households. Tessie mentions her daughter, Eva, a married woman, and Mr. Summers responds to her here. The fact that women draw with their husbands’ families also shows that this community operates under other social traditions: Women draw with their husbands’ families, but men remain within their birth families.

He blinked his eyes nervously and ducked his head as several voices in the crowd said things like “Good fellow, Jack,” and “Glad to see your mother’s got a man to do it.”

After Mr. Summers asks if the “Watson boy” will be drawing for his family that year, the boy goes forward to draw for himself and his mother, indicating that his father has died. The reverence that the other villagers show Jack displays how drawing for one’s family serves as a sign of honor and sacrifice. In addition, the idea that a son should take this role instead of the mother, or any woman, shows the traditional gender roles present in this society. However, villagers will still stone a woman when she draws the marked paper.

The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

The narrator describes how, as the villagers begin charging forward to stone Tessie Hutchinson, the children who were collecting stones earlier give some to Davy, Tessie’s son. Although Davy’s age may prevent him from really understanding the stoning ritual, the other villagers expect him to participate in the lottery even though his own mother has been chosen as the victim. Family ties sever the moment the villagers know the result of the lottery.