What do the symbols of the black box, the black spot, and the stones represent (stand for) in "The Lottery"?

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A symbol is an object that takes on deeper meaning within the story.  This is the story of a town that valued tradition so much that human life became less important.  The symbols of the town’s heritage took on an almost mythic meaning.  The town could not get rid of...

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A symbol is an object that takes on deeper meaning within the story.  This is the story of a town that valued tradition so much that human life became less important.  The symbols of the town’s heritage took on an almost mythic meaning.  The town could not get rid of the lottery, and it could not get rid of the symbols of its past.

The black box is an important symbol.  The box has existed in one form or another since the beginning.  When a black box falls apart, they make a new box out of the pieces.

Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything's being done. 

This is significant because it demonstrates how the town refuses to let go of tradition.  Even the smallest thing like a new box is intolerable.  It isn’t that anyone makes a big fuss.  There just is no change and no one can get it to happen. 

The black spot on the paper means that a person is marked.  It dooms a person.  It is a little, insignificant thing. It is just a spot on a paper.  However, the spot represents fate.  The village will kill one person a year, and it is the person who gets the spot. 

Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd. 

Bill’s reaction is remarkable.  His wife is panicking because she has the spot of death, and his reaction is to force the paper from her hand and show it to everyone.  He knows what will result.  From the moment she reacted to her paper, he knew that fate had got her. 

The stones are a classic form of murder by mob.  In this community, they are gathered by the boys when they first get to the square.  The boys know full well what those stones will be used for.  Their collection by the boys represents the passing on of the village’s morbid custom.

 

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