What do the names Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves hint at in "The Lottery"?
Mr. Summers is cheerful, and Mr. Graves is sour and serious. The names indicate their positions and their personalities.
Mr. Summers conducts the lottery because has “time and energy to devote to civic activities.” He is ironically a very happy man, described as “jovial,” even though people are sorry for him because he has no children and his wife is a “scold.”
Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. He is “very good at all this,” making the lottery seem important.
Mr. Summers is always trying to improve things. He is successful in getting people to switch from chips of wood to paper, because the village is so big that the wood chips no longer fit in the box.
Mr. Graves carries the “three- legged stool” that is the focus of the exercise. The stool, like the black box that is falling apart, is an old tradition. Although Mr. Summers officiates, Mr. Graves seems to have the real power. From the beginning to the end, he is described as watching. He swears in Mr. Summers, but never does much. He does pry the paper out of little Dave Hutchinson’s hands, write before Tessie is killed by the crowd.
Mr. Graves opened the slip of paper and there was a general sigh through the crowd as he held it up and
everyone could see that it was blank.
The reader is aware that Mr. Graves is kept in the background for a reason. He seems to be the mysterious supporter of tradition, stepping back and letting Mr. Summers be the figurehead. His name alone is enough of an indication that he is the harbinger of death.