What is the inciting incident in the story"The Lottery?"

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The inciting incident in "The Lottery" occurs when the slips of paper are chosen and one person's family is singled out to provide the harvest sacrifice.

...the voices began to say, "It's Hutchinson. It's Bill," "Bill Hutchinson's got it."
People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers, "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!"
(Jackson, "The Lottery," classicshorts.com)

This is the start of the conflict that leads towards the end of the story. Since Tessie believes her husband's choice to have been somehow influenced, she takes the position that the Lottery should be redone; nobody else shares her opinion, not even her husband. Her potential rebellion against the tradition is thwarted by the other villagers, who all believe the Lottery to be fair and normal; in fact, they all have a vested interest in keeping the result, as it means that their own families are spared for that year. Although she incites conflict, she is overpowered by the other villagers, and the ritual continues as normal, overall unaffected by her action.

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The Lottery

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