What is the size of the village in "The Lottery"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The village has about three hundred people.

All of the villages in the region seem to have a lottery like the one described in this story.  We are told that in some villages the lottery takes more than one day.  The narrator comments that the village is smaller than other villages, so the lottery is completed faster.

[In] this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.

The fact that here are only three hundred people indicates that the village is very small, and everyone would know everyone else.  It is likely that the small nature of the village contributes to the reliance on tradition.  There are fewer people, so conformity is even more important.

As we know, no one complains about the lottery.  Things just go on as they always have, even though the lottery is a barbaric practice.  The villagers will not even make a new box or change the broken stool.  Everything is about tradition.

The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago …. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.

The villagers all gather together, and they draw one person’s name to be killed.  It is a completely random kill, because no one knows who will be killed before the lottery.  Anyone in the crowd could die.  That is the tragedy of the lottery.  However, only the victim complains, and only once her name is drawn.  Everyone else, down to the children, just assists with the kill as if it were nothing.

Read the study guide:
The Lottery

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