What is the plot of the story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson?

The plot of "The Lottery" involves the selection of a lottery "winner" out of the residents of a small fictitious town. The "winner" will be sacrificed to ensure that the year's crops are good.

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This is one lottery that you would NOT want to win. The premise of this chilling story is that every year, residents of a small fictional town in New England gather in their town square to take part in a “lottery.” What we are not told up front is that this is not a lottery in which there is money to be won.. One person is to be selected to be sacrificed in accordance with the bizarre belief that this will lead to a bountiful harvest.

On lottery day, we are told that the children arrive first and start collecting stones, but we are not told at first that these stones will be used to stone the lottery “winner” to death. Soon, the adults arrive and the children are called to stand with their families. Proceedings start with officials listing each household present, as well as each member of each household.

In the first round of this lottery, one person designated as the head of each family must draw a slip of paper, and no one may look at their slip until each family has drawn one. One of the pieces of paper is marked, and it is from whichever family has the marked piece of paper that the “winner” will come. This time around, it is the Hutchinson family’s “lucky” day.

Five pieces of paper (one marked) are placed back into the box and each member of the Hutchinson family must draw again to see who ultimately lottery winner will be. It is Tessie Hutchinson who has the marked paper, and the story concludes with the villages advancing on her with the stones that the children had been collecting at the beginning of the story.

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Exposition: Everyone in the small New England village gathers at the end of June each year for the lottery. The audience is not informed as to why the lottery is held each year but is intrigued as the children gather stones and families stand next to each other. Mr. Summers is in charge of running the lottery, and Jackson provides some background details concerning the foreboding black box, which is presented in front of the community. Despite Mr. Summers's attempts to replace the old black box, the community does not want to mess with tradition and decides to keep it. Old Man Warner complains about how some villages have stopped participating in the lottery and is depicted as an opponent of progress and change. Tessie Hutchinson also arrives late to the lottery and takes her place beside her family. Mr. Summers then tells the villagers to not look at their slips until instructed and the heads of each household are called to retrieve their slips of paper from the black box.

Conflict: When the villagers look at their pieces of paper, Bill Hutchinson discovers that he is holding the slip with the black dot on it. His wife, Tessie, immediately complains that the drawing is not fair because Bill did not have enough time to choose his slip.

Rising Action: The entire Hutchinson family is told to place their five slips back into the black box for a second drawing. The tension builds as the reader wonders which member will draw the slip with the ominous black dot.

Climax: After each family member draws and opens their slips, Tessie discovers that she is holding the piece of paper with the black dot in the middle.

Falling Action: Tessie Hutchinson begins to scream and complain that the lottery is not fair as the other villagers begin to gather stones.

Resolution: The villagers rush towards Tessie and begin throwing stones at her. A stone strikes Tessie in the head as Old Man Warner encourages the villagers to hurl more stones at the defenseless woman.

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Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is a classic story of what could happen when people follow a tradition for no other reason than it is a tradition. Blindly following what has been done in the past without questioning why leads to one horrible death every year in a fictional town in New England. 

At the beginning of the story, the nature of the lottery that is to be held that day is not revealed to the reader. It is a special day in the town. Everyone gathers in the town square as conversations happen that show that this is an event that has been happening for many years, long enough for some of the older citizens to complain that changes have happened in the way the lottery is done. Children are excited, but some people are nervous. When it is time for the lottery the two men in charge, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves, make sure that each family from the town is present or represented. The head of each family then comes forward and draws a slip of paper from a black box. Bill Hutchinson has drawn the one slip with a black spot. His wife, Tessie, complains that the drawing was not fair, but the townspeople tell her to be a good sport. All the members of the Hutchinson family then have to select slips, and Tessie draws the one with the black spot. The townspeople then proceed to stone her to death. No concrete explanation is given for why this is done; it is just something the towns in the area have been doing for a long time, and it is not questioned. It is a chilling story as it is such an ordinary day in an ordinary town until the citizens brutally murder an innocent woman.

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Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is about life in a seemingly idyllic small town on the morning of June 27th. The townspeople are gathering in the town square for a communal event. Jackson describes the event in such a way as to lead the reader into a sense of security and to elicit feelings of warmth and nostalgia for the simplicity of small-town life. As the story progresses, however, she begins to give the reader the idea that everything is not okay. The townspeople have come together for a "lottery," which sounds exciting but ends up being sinister. As the story progresses and the townspeople gather, they begin to make small talk and discuss the coming event. Children gather stones, men talk of work, women join their husbands—at first everything seems part and parcel of small-town life. However, once a man named Mr. Summers arrives with a black box, things begin to take a turn. People seem wary of the box, even though it is what the "winning" ticket will be drawn from.

After a decent amount of formality regarding the selection process for the lottery, the event is about to commence. A woman named Tessie Hutchinson comes along somewhat late and joins her family. As the lottery begins and each head of family comes forward to draw a slip of paper from the box, there is some talk about how quickly the event arrived, how it seems like there isn't any time between lotteries, and how some places are "giving up" the lottery. These examples reveal nervous tension and the idea that the lottery is not something that everyone wants to be involved in. A man named Old Man Warner chastises those who speak up and says "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon." After the climax of the story, it becomes clear that this is a tie to pagan beliefs regarding sacrifice and harvest.

Eventually the first drawing of the lottery comes to an end. Each head of household opens the paper they have drawn. When it is revealed that Bill Hutchinson's paper contains a different mark than all the others, his wife begins to complain that he was rushed and didn't have enough time to pick. At this point, the second part of the lottery begins. Each member of the Hutchinson family, including the children, must draw to see which one ends up with a marked paper. The family proceeds despite Tessie's continued protests. After picking, every member of the family except Tessie reveals a clean piece of paper. Bill has to force Tessie to reveal hers, and it contains a black spot.

Mr. Summers then encourages everyone to finish the event quickly, and as Tessie continues to protest, the members of the town begin to pick up rocks and stone her to death.

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Villagers come together for a yearly lottery. The children just finished school.  The setting is serene. A man, Mr. Summer, runs the lottery, and he arrives with a black box. Mr. Graves, the postmaster follows.  By this time, the children, men, and women have gathered. Everything seems normal; the people have done this before many times. Finally, Tessie Hutchinson arrives; she actually forgot about the lottery. 

At this point, Mr. Summer reminds the people of the rules. When everyone has drawn, rumor has it that Bill Hutchinson has got "it". Tessie cries out that it is not fair. No one listens. Mr. Graves dumps the paper on the ground.

The Hutchinson family draws, and Tessie has the paper with the black dot.  By this time, Tessie is alone in a clearing, and the people begin to stone her. She is struck in the head.

The story ends with these words:

"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her."

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Plot refers to what happens in any given story—the events that make up the story. Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" tells of a small town that gathers yearly to take part in a lottery. As the story progresses the reader realizes that this particular lottery is not one you might hope to win. The town has upheld an ancient tradition of human sacrifice related to the harvest and the lottery will determine who amongst the town's members will be stoned to death that year. While many secondary characters are introduced, Mrs. Hutchinson is the focus of the story. It is she that will be sacrificed for the town that year. As you, the reader, become aware of the true purpose of the lottery, Mrs. Hutchinson becomes aware of the role she will play. Prior to being the year's chosen one, Mrs. Hutchinson was just as certain of the lottery's necessity as the other members of the town. Once it is revealed that she is the sacrifice, she tries, unsuccessfully, to make the town cease the tradition. 

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The plot, or conflict, in this story is the struggle between participating in an action because it is actually necessary OR because it is simply tradition, focusing mainly on Mrs. Hutchinson.  In the story, the people of the town participate yearly in a lottery; as the reader, one would assume that winning the lottery would be pleasurable and possibly yield money or prizes.  However, as the story progresses, the tone changes drastically and we see that "winning" the lottery is not a good thing at all.  Mrs. Hutchinson willingly participated in the lottery and was going to accept its results—until she was the one chosen. It's not until she is about to be stoned to death that she realizes the tradition is a futile one.  

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The story of "The Lottery" takes place on one day, the day of the lottery, a beautiful summer day in June, in what appears to be a charming and peaceful village.  The story opens as town officials and villagers gather for the lottery and ends as the "winner" of the lottery, Tessie Hutchinson, is stoned to death by the villagers.  All that happens in between those events is about the lottery, its possible origins, its traditions, the idea (quickly dismissed) of doing away with the lottery, and the protests of the "winner," who, now that she is about to die, has concerns about the fairness of the procedure. The richness of the story lies in the deceptive simplicity of this plot, which allows it to symbolize the horror of blind conformity and unexamined tradition.

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