How does the detail "And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles" contribute to the text in "The Lottery"?

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The significance of this detail begins in the second paragraph of the story when the narrator notes that "the children assembled first, of course" for the lottery. Inherent in this ritual is a fascination with the blind acceptance of tradition that the impending stoning doesn't frighten the children of the...

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The significance of this detail begins in the second paragraph of the story when the narrator notes that "the children assembled first, of course" for the lottery. Inherent in this ritual is a fascination with the blind acceptance of tradition that the impending stoning doesn't frighten the children of the town. Instead, they rush to gather, stuffing their pockets full of stones and choosing the best ones. There is no sense in the children's actions of dread. No one talks about the possibility that someone they love could be chosen. Instead, they blindly begin preparations for a murder without any sense of guilt, much the same as the adults in their town.

Davy Hutchinson is so young that he hasn't even gathered his own stones, and someone hands him a few "pebbles," the word itself connoting that he isn't capable of holding or throwing larger rocks. Davy is being swept into the next generation of those who will participate in the lottery each year, and there is no sense of remorse evident that the townspeople are asking Davy to stone his own mother. Furthermore, there is no note by the author that Davy resists the idea.

This line represents the power of a controlling majority to remain in power through the intentional manipulation of the youngest members of its society.

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What this excerpt illustrates is just how much the ritual of the lottery corrupts the innocence of the town's youth. They are active participants in this annual human sacrifice, playing their full part in stoning the sacrificial victims to death.

Exposed to communal violence by their parents from an early age, they've come to see such barbarism as perfectly normal. The town's elders know that, if the lottery is to survive, it's important that the next generation keeps up the old traditions. That means catching them young, inducting the town's children as early in their lives as possible into this grotesque display of atavistic savagery.

What's even more disturbing about the children's involvement in the lottery is that they're expected to participate in stoning even when it's their own family members who are the victims. That's what the above excerpt is alluding to; Davy Hutchinson's been given some pebbles that he's going to throw at his own mother, this year's "winner" of the lottery. In this small town, loyalty to the old traditions trumps loyalty to one's family.

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Davy's mother, Tessie Hutchinson, has unfortunately chosen the slip of paper with the black spot on it, which means that she will become the community's scapegoat and die a brutal death. After Tessie has "won" the lottery, her family members, neighbors, and friends gather stones to hurl at her. Jackson writes:

The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles. (7)

This significant detail contributes to the startling, unsettling nature of the lottery and underscores Jackson's message regarding the dangers of blindly following traditions. The fact that Davy will participate in his mother's death by throwing stones at her is a jarring image which appalls the reader. By commenting on Davy's participation in his mother's stoning, Jackson highlights the lack of civility, complete violence, and utter depravity of the senseless, brutal ritual. Jackson also creates further sympathy for Tessie's character by describing Davy's participation in her death. The fact that Tessie's own children turn against her emphasizes her isolation and increases the audience's sympathy for her character.

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This detail is significant because Davy's mother, Tessie Hutchinson, has been selected as the winner of the lottery after her husband draws the slip of paper with the black spot.

This means that Tessie will be stoned to death by the villagers, including her own family.

Jackson includes this detail because it contributes to the ominous, somber mood of the text. This detail is meant to make the reader feel a mix of pity and horror at the fact that Tessie's own children will participate in her murder. Because young children are often portrayed as innocent, it goes against expectations to have a young boy like Davy directly participate in the violence that takes place in the story.

Therefore, this detail underscores Jackson's message about tradition, society, and the danger of blind acceptance.

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