In "The Lottery," what kind of work do they do in the village?

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hgarey71 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shirley Jackson's 1948 short story, "The Lottery," the villagers have many jobs. The setting of the story is a small village of three hundred people. In this village, there is a town square, a post office, and a bank. Villagers who run these operations are never named. In the third paragraph of the story, the narrator states: 

"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. The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk."

Although not directly stated, one can infer from this passage that many of the village men are farmers. Their conversation about planting and tractors provides textual evidence for this. A further inference could be made that most of the women are homemakers, based not only on their attire in this passage but also on later conversations. Tessie Hutchinson tells her husband she had to finish washing the dishes in the sink before she could come to the lottery. 

There are only two people in the story whose jobs are named. Mr. Graves, the postmaster, serves as an assistant to the man who conducts the lottery. The other person whose job is named is Mr. Summers. He is the owner of a coal business in the village and the one who conducts the lottery. The fact that he is the only villager whose career is named speaks to the hierarchy in the town, as well. Mr. Summers conducts all the civic activities of the town because he has "the time and energy to do so." Since he is a business owner, he employs people but doesn't have to do the heavy work himself. He is a leader in a town of blind followers.