If Mrs. Hutchinson had failed to show up, her husband would have drawn for her.
Mrs. Hutchinson is almost late on lottery day. She comes rushing in after everyone has assembled and says she forgot what day it was. The lottery happens every year.
"Clean forgot what day it was," she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly. "Thought my old man was out back stacking wood," Mrs. Hutchinson went on. "And then I looked out the window and the kids was gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running."
It wouldn’t have mattered, though, if she had not come. Her husband would have drawn for her. When a person is indisposed, or missing, the wife draws for the husband or the husband draws for the wife. If there is no husband, the oldest son draws. These are the traditional rules.
When Clyde Dunbar is not there, his wife says she will draw for him because their son is only sixteen. Apparently that is not old enough. It is clearly a patriarchal society, though, if they are looking for a son when the wife is right there.
"Wife draws for her husband." Mr. Summers said. "Don't you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?" Although Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally.
The Watson boy draws for his mother and himself. The lottery is an important tradition in the village. They want to make sure that everyone participates. You can’t get out of it by being sick or injured, or simply not showing up. They check to make sure everyone is there, and make sure everyone is in the drawing one way or another.