The setting of "The Lottery" is, according to Shirley Jackson, her village of Bennington, Vermont:
“I suppose I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.”
Oddly enough, some of the readers of The New Yorker, in which "The Lottery" was first published, also wanted to know where such lotteries were held so they could visit this area and watch. This fact seems to underscore Jackson's theme of the human propensity for violence as a trait in some people, a trait exemplified by Mrs. Delacroix, who has been friendly with Tessie Hutchinson, but when Tessie draws her lot as the village scapegoat, she eagerly lifts the heaviest rock she can carry.
In her story, Jackson's village is a rural area, surrounded by other such villages with people who have lived narrow lives and, perhaps as a result of such lives, appear to have narrow minds, as well. Thus, Jackson's parable also points to a phrase used by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "the opium of custom." For, the villagers, especially Old Man Warner, continue the lottery simply because they have always had one.