What are the boys in the square doing in the story "The Lottery"?

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On the clear, sunny morning of June 27th, the children are the first to assemble in the town square for the lottery and begin to stuff their pockets full of stones. Bobby, Harry Jones, and Dickie Delacroix proceed to build a great pile of stones in the corner of the square and defend it against raids from the other local boys participating in the lottery. The reader discovers that these stones the children collect and pile will be hurled at the defenseless winner of the lottery at the end of the ceremony.

Tessie Hutchinson becomes the unfortunate victim of the lottery and stands in the middle of the town square as her neighbors hurl stones at her. After she is selected, Jackson writes that the citizens grab stones off the boys' pile and proceed to throw them at Tessie. Dickie Delacroix even selects a stone so large to hurl at Tessie that he has to use two hands to pick it up. The fact that an innocent victim is stoned to death emphasizes the brutality of the senseless, annual ceremony and highlights Jackson's message regarding the dangers of blindly following tradition.

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It is the morning of the lottery.  This event happened every year in every town on June 27th unless it was a huge town, and they needed two days for the event.  School was just recently out for the summer, and the young boys were the first to enter the square. The boys of the town gathered quietly at first and then,

“…..broke into boisterous play.”  (pg 1)

Bobby Martin was the first boy to fill his pockets with stones, and the other boys then followed his lead. They chose,

“…..the smoothest and roundest stones.” (pg 1)

It is obvious that they are choosing these stones for a specific purpose.  Bobby, Harry Jones, and Dickie Delacrois made a huge pile a stones in one corner of the square.  They guarded that pile because other boys would try to take them.

This foreshadows what is to come later.  The reader knows that the boys must be preparing for something that will happen later in the book, otherwise, why bother collecting and piling the stones.

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