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.