As the townspeople are waiting for the lottery to begin, what is their general attitude?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shirley Jackson actually structures her short story to address the various segments of the population. From this we can surmise their attitudes. 

First, she describes the children. They just got out of school, and they are about to enter into summer vacation. So, there is excitement. They are also eerily excited for the lottery. Bobby Martin, a boy who is named, gathers smooth stones and puts them in his pocket. Other boys do the same. By the second paragraph, there is a pile of stones. 

Second, the men are mentioned. They gather together, and they talk about tractors, farm work, and taxes. They know what is coming, but one gets the impression that they are avoiding the real reason why they are there. 

Third, the women gather and gossip a bit and tend to their children. In other words, like the men, they are ignoring the real reason for their meeting and just waiting for the lottery to begin.

Based on this description, it seems that the children are excited for the stoning. Perhaps they are too young to know what is really going on. As for the adults, there is resignation to follow through with the lottery, but their attitude is apprehensive. Someone even says that some villages have stopped the lottery.

No one outrightly speaks out against the lottery, but there is a sense that fear is in the air. Tessie, who is chosen, repeats several times, "It is not fair."