What happens at the end of "The Lottery"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A shocking realization comes to the reader at the end of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson: the community have not been drawing for any prize or reward in the traditional sense.  Instead, lottery has the ancient meaning:they have drawn lots.  What is amazing is that the people--even Tessie Hutchinson's husband--have mindlessly followed a superstitious custom of making someone a scapegoat for some reason that they do not remember, if they knew at all.  Their callous and savage behavior is underscored with Jackson's line:

The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

Old Man Warner, who stauchly adheres to tradition no matter what the tradition is calls out, "Come on, come on, everyone," and the others hurry, ignoring Mrs. Hutchinson's pleas for reason,

It ain't fair, is isn't right."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What happens at the end of the story is that all of the nice villagers (who have been hanging out together, chatting and getting ready for their traditional lottery) pick up rocks and start to use those rocks to kill one of their neighbors.  They start throwing rocks at a woman (Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson) who, a moment ago, was part of their community.

This is why this is such a horrible story.  It is terrible because these otherwise normal people can turn in an instant and become killers just because it is traditional and it is expected.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial