Are the townspeople in "The Lottery" influenced by the actions of those around them?

Yes, the townspeople in "The Lottery" are influenced by the actions of those around them. This is perhaps most obvious when the townspeople start throwing stones at Mrs. Hutchinson at the end of the story, following Mrs. Delacroix's lead.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the end of the story, Mrs. Hutchinson is identified as the unfortunate "winner" of the lottery. The townspeople, as is their tradition, then close in upon her and start to throw stones at her. Mrs. Delacroix is the first named person to pick up a stone, and she then invites Mrs. Dunbar to pick up a stone and follow her. When the children see Mrs. Delacroix and Mrs. Dunbar heading towards Mrs. Hutchinson, each with a handful of stones to throw, they follow suit.

This episode is a good example of how the townspeople are influenced by the actions of those around them. Firstly, Mrs. Delacroix is influenced by the generations of townspeople that have preceded her and who have decided that this stoning ritual is a town tradition. Secondly, Mrs. Dunbar is influenced by Mrs. Delacroix and picks up a stone to follow Mrs. Delacroix's lead. Thirdly, the children are influenced by the actions of the adults and pick up stones to imitate the adults.

As the townspeople are walking towards Mrs. Hutchinson, their stones in their hands, Mrs. Hutchinson protests and pleads. The townspeople are merciless, and the first stone is cast: "A stone hits her on the side of the head." The implication here is that this single stone will be the first of many, and in this way, the story ends with a warning about how one person's actions can influence the actions of many others.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial