Who is the main character in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson?

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The black box and the lottery itself would be main characters. What if we considered this a bit more abstractly? The lottery and the black box are the protagonists. They are carrying out the role that they have been established to fulfill. Tessie Hutchinson, on the other hand, is the antagonist because she tries to thwart the "natural" process. She even attempts to sacrifice others instead of herself.

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What a fascinating discussion of a great piece of literature. Who is the main character? Perhaps a better question would be to ask who is the protagonist and who or what is the antagonist in this story. I would have to say that Tessie Hutchinson is the main character. Jackson spends some time on her when she draws attention to Tessie being late through her comments and the comments of other characters. She also says a lot about Tessie’s character when Tessie seems willing to through her oldest daughter into the pool in order to save herself. Tessie also has some behaviors and mannerisms that come out in the story as well. Do we want Tessie to die? No, so she would perhaps be the protagonist. The antagonist, however, could be the lottery itself which is shown to be archaic through the discussion of the old man and comments made about other towns. The black box could also be considered an antagonist as it delivers the official marked ballot to Tessie. Both of these elements work against Tessie’s primary purpose which is to live.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In my mind, the community is the main character of the short story.  The idea that the lottery is accepted practice in the social order, where an individual has to be targeted is something that occupies the greatest importance, in my mind.  It is always an element that resonates within me:  The notion of the terror of the community becoming standardized practice is a horrifying one, and an element that occupies a great deal of importance upon reading the work.

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with the previous posts--fascinating discussion, really!  I would go with Tessie as main character, however.  She does change throughout the story, and I find it particularly moving that her son is the first to cast stones at her.

While the box and the lottery are great candidates for main character (and they do both dominate the actions and reactions), they do not grow or change in any way.  At the end of the story, the black box is still ragged, faded, and neglected from years of use.  The lottery, despite the "talk" of rejection or alteration from the townspeople, does not change with Tessie's death.  We as readers expect it to be back in full force with the next spring crop.

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emratica eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with the previous posts, but I must also argue for the black box...

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