What are three of Tessie Hutchinson's character traits from "The Lottery"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. I do not think of Tessie as "dominating" so much as I think she is simply assertive, but, because she is a woman, her personality is interpreted as domineering. It seems that she is expected to be submissive, given the whole process of the lottery where the man draws for the family unless he is absent; then an adult son draws before his mother would step into the father's role. Mrs. Dunbar, for example, only draws for her family because her husband has a broken leg and her son, Horace, is "'not but sixteen yet.'" Clearly men are expected to be the public representatives of their families in this community, while women take a backseat. But Tessie does not, and she is unusual in this way.

2. Tessie also has a sense of humor, something else that seems to differentiate her from her peers. In addition to refusing to take a backseat to her husband, she makes the crowd laugh aloud, twice. First, when she mentions how she could not leave without finishing the dishes, and again when she jokingly orders her husband to select a paper.

3. When she learns that it is her family that has drawn the paper with the spot, she panics. She gets so fixated on how "unfair" the proceedings seem to her—she insists that Bill did not get a chance to take his time and choose the paper he wanted. The trait Tessie displays here is outspokenness.  Whether she is right or wrong, she feels as though her family is being victimized, and so when it comes to her turn, she "look[s] around defiantly, and then set her lips" before she "snatched a paper" from the box. Clearly Tessie has behaved in yet another way that is considered to be unacceptable, as one older community member comments that "'People ain't the way they used to be'" in disappointment.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1.  Tessie is somewhat of a "rebel."  She arrives at the lottery later than anyone else and claims that she forgot what day it was, and that it was only when she recognized that her husband and children were missing that she remembered. Tessie's excuse does not seem genuine, but the crowd seems to humor her and be slightly intimidated by her. The reader can see from Tessie's entrance, that she is not one to easily follow others.

2.  Tessie is "dominating." She is obviously the "head" of her household, and even when the men are told to represent their families by drawing, Tessie orders her husband to do so before he has an opportunity to move.  She says,

" 'Get up there, Bill.' "

and the crowd laughs at her.  Similarly, when the crowd discovers that the Hutchinsons drew the marked piece, Bill stands there quietly and subdued, while Tessie's automatic reaction is to shout and protest. 

3.  Finally, Tessie's reaction to her family being chosen and ultimately her name being attached to the marked paper illustrates her self-centeredness.  At first, she wants to lessen her chances of being stoned by adding her daughter and son-in-law into the drawing, indicating that she would rather her daughter die instead of her. She seems to think that anyone, including members of her own family, deserve to die before she does.  Even as she is being stoned, she protests the "unfairness" of the drawing but does not say final good-byes or show any concern for the children she is leaving motherless.

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The Lottery

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