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by Shirley Jackson

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What are three character traits of Tessie Hutchinson from "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson? What can you infer about Tessie Hutchinson?

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Three character traits of Tessie Hutchinson are tardiness, resistance, and suppression.

  • Tardiness

Mrs. Hutchinson is late arriving at the designated place where the annual lottery is held. She tells Mrs. Delacroix that she "Clean forgot what day it was" and adds that she thought her husband was in "the back stacking wood." While it is possible that she has forgotten what day it is since she has hurriedly thrown her sweater over her shoulders, it seems rather doubtful that her husband, who has to stand with his family at the lottery, would leave without Tessie or without saying something to her, or that a neighbor would not have mentioned it in the last day or two. Added to this doubt about Tessie's having forgotten the date is the fact that she is late simply because she has washed the dishes, a chore that could wait until she returned. Interestingly, sometimes when people are reluctant to leave, they keep finding something to prevent their leaving. At any rate, the reader does not know with any certainty why Tessie is late, but she is tardy, nevertheless.

  • Resistance

After her husband Bill draws the slip of paper with the black spot on it, Tessie Hutchinson suddenly shouts to Mr. Summers, who officiates over the lottery, 

"You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair."

When her husband tells his wife to "Shut up" and others encourage her to be a good sport, Tessie still objects, repeating,

"It wasn't fair.You didn't give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that."

But her protests are ignored, even when she appeals to those around her as she says, "Listen, everybody." After the family draws from the five slips regathered from them, the members of the Hutchinson family but Tessie open their slips and reveal that they are blank. Mr. Summers says with a hushed voice, "It's Tessie....Show us her paper, Bill." Bill has to force the paper out of Tessie's hand.

When she is placed in the center of a cleared area, Tessie repeats in her final act of resistance, "It isn't fair," but a stone hits her on the side of her head.

  • Suppression

Tessie's husband Bill tells her to "Shut up" when she protests, and he ignores her other remarks; also, Mr. Summers makes no response to her objections. When Tessie will not open her hand that holds her slip of paper, her husband forces this hand open, takes the slip from her, and holds it up without saying anything. The lack of feeling for his own wife that is apparently demonstrated by Bill Hutchinson suggests that Tessie's life is not valued as highly as his own.

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