The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool, and when Mr. Summers said, “Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?” there was a hesitation before two men, Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, came forward to hold the box steady on the stool while Mr. Summers stirred up the papers inside it.
The narrator reveals that when Mr. Summers asks for help as prepares the box for the lottery, the nearby villagers seem reluctant to get too close to the box. Despite the fact that the box itself can’t hurt them, they know what the box’s presence will eventually mean for someone—possibly themselves—in the village. Although they all willingly participate in the lottery, first by showing up and later by stoning their neighbor to death, they would not want to be the unlucky one to be picked.
“I think we ought to start over,” Mrs. Hutchinson said, as quietly as she could. “I tell you it wasn’t
fair. You didn’t give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that.”
After Bill draws the paper bearing the family mark and Mr. Summers begins to narrow the selection by having each member of the family draw, Tessie protests by saying her husband should have had more time to choose the paper. Now that Tessie stands to lose her life or to lose someone in her family, she seems to resent the process of the lottery. However, at the start of the lottery she eagerly showed up and even encouraged her husband as he walked forward to draw.