The Lottery is a short story which recounts the day when a small community gathers for the town lottery. It focuses specifically on Tessie Hutchinson, who arrives late to the lottery ends up drawing a black dot. Full of anticipation and foreshadowing, the story ends when the reader discovers that the person who "wins" the lottery is violently killed by the others in town, and ultimately questions the dangers of blindly following tradition.
Details of contemporary small-town American life are embroidered upon a description of an annual ritual known as "the lottery." In a small village of about 300 residents, the locals are in an excited yet nervous mood on June 27. Children gather stones as the adult townsfolk assemble for their annual event, which in the local tradition is practiced to ensure a good harvest (Old Man Warner quotes an old proverb: "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon"), though there are some rumors that nearby communities in the north are talking about giving up the lottery.
The lottery preparations start the night before with Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves making the paper slips and the list of all the families. Once the slips are finished, they are put into a black box, which is stored overnight in a safe at the coal company. The story briefly mentions how the ballot box has been stored other years in various places in the town.
On the morning of the lottery, the townspeople start close to 10 a.m. in order to have everything done in time for lunch. First, the heads of the households draw slips until every head of the household has a slip (for the first round, the men have to be over sixteen years of age). Bill Hutchinson gets the one slip with a black spot, meaning that his family has been chosen. The second round is for the individual family members to draw, no matter their age. Bill's wife Tessie gets the marked slip. After the drawing is over and Tessie is picked, the slips are allowed to fly off into the wind. In keeping with tradition, each villager obtains a stone and begins to surround Tessie. The story ends as Tessie is stoned to death while she bemoans the unfairness of the situation.