How does the lottery situation affect the conduct of otherwise friendly people in "The Lottery"? Do the people understand the reasons for their behavior?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is definitely mob mentality at work in the lottery.  The people participate because they are expected to.  It is clear that they do not want to.  The children feel uneasy, and the adults seem uncomfortable too.

Soon the men began to gather. Surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed.

When the stool is brought out, the villagers “kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool.”  Although they are uncomfortable, tradition is very important to the villagers.

Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.

People don’t really like the lottery, but tradition is so important to them that they are not even willing to change the box, even though it’s not the original box, because they are used to it.  They want to get the lottery over with so they can get “back to work.”

"Some places have already quit lotteries." Mrs. Adams said.

"Nothing but trouble in that," Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools."

The only person who seems to care about the lottery, or think it isn’t fair, is the one who gets stoned.  "The people of the village continue to take part in the lottery even though they cannot remember certain aspects of the ritual, such as the "tuneless chant" and the "ritual salute," simply because the event has been held for so long that these aspects have been lost to time." (enotes themes)