Mr. Graves is the town postmaster and one of the most powerful men in the village and in the running of the lottery, second only to Mr. Summers. His name, "graves," provides a dark counterpart to that of Mr. Summers, with at least two layers of meaning. To begin with, he is a "grave" or serious man carrying out a serious task:
"We're next," Mrs. Graves said. She watched while Mr. Graves came around from the side of the box, greeted Mr. Summers gravely, and selected a slip of paper from the box.
In the other sense of "grave," the place to dispose of a dead body, Mr. Graves' name is just as appropriate, since what he does with Mr. Summers does indeed fill "graves" during the "summers," the time of the lottery:
The night before the lottery, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves made up the slips of paper [to choose the victim] and put them in the box, and it was then taken to the safe of Mr. Summers' coal company....
When the Hutchinson family proves unlucky, Mr. Graves is also the person who leads the youngest of the Hutchinson children to the fateful box to draw again to determine the exact victim.