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The central conflict in “The Lottery” is the external conflict of person vs. society, because it is the traditions of the village that cause Tessie Hutchinson to be killed, and one other person a year before her.
A person vs. society conflict exists when the rules or governance of the society come into conflict with the character. The character is threatened or impaired in some way by society. In this story, all characters are at conflict with society because the victim is chosen by lottery, but the Hutchinsons are the main conflict.
“The Lottery” is the story of a village that sacrifices one of its people each year. The victim is chosen by lottery. There is no reason for this murder, except that things are done as they always have been.
No one knows the original purpose of the lottery. They will not even repair the three-legged stool so it can stand by itself, or replace the dilapidated black box, because “no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.” They seem to see the lottery as nothing more than an interruption in their daily routine.
"Well, now." Mr. Summers said soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work.
People in the village act the way they do because that is the way it’s always been. The lottery has been used since the first villagers settled, so they continue it. No one questions anything. Parts of the ritual only change when no one can remember them.
This story represents the costs of going along with everyone else. If people don’t question things because no one else questions them, then grave injustices will continue. The mob mentality allows individuals to be anonymous and not held accountable for their choices. Like peer pressure, people just go along with whatever is done by the next person.
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