In Shirley Jackson's story, "The Lottery,"  how did the townspeople prepare for the lottery?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson, every year on June 27th the townspeople would gather together in the town square beginning at about 10:00 in the morning.

"The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play, and their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands. Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones..." (Jackson 1)

The children prepared by making a big pile of stones. After the children, the men began to gather and then the women. They stood around talking and waiting for the postmaster, Mr. Graves, and Mr. Summers, who conducted the lottery, to arrive. Mr. Summers brought with him the black box, in which he put all of the townspeople's names for the drawing. Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves always prepared the box the night before. They put the box in a safe that Mr. Summers kept at his company to make sure nobody could tamper with it or take it. On the day of the lottery, the two men made up lists of families from the heads of the family to each of the members. Finally, Mr. Summers was sworn in by Mr. Graves to conduct the lottery.

The lottery had become a ritual over the years, and everyone knew exactly what to do. 

Read the study guide:
The Lottery

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