Who showed up late for the lottery in "The Lottery?"

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Hutchinson arrives late to the lottery.

The villagers all arrive slowly, trickling in.  After most of them have gathered, Mrs. Hutchinson arrives and makes her excuse, saying she, “Clean forgot what day it was.”

Just as Mr. Summers finally left off talking and turned to the assembled villagers, Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square, her sweater thrown over her shoulders, and slid into place in the back of the crowd.

Mrs. Hutchinson says that she noticed that the kids were not there, and thought her old man was stacking wood.  When she noticed that kids were gone she realized it was lottery day.  Mrs. Delacroix tells her she is just in time.  Mrs. Hutchinson notices her husband and children and leaves Mrs. Delacroix to go stand next to them instead.

When Mrs. Hutchinson joins her husband, several people make jokes and small talk about it and there is nervous laughter.

The people separated good-humoredly to let her through: two or three people said in voices just loud enough to be heard across the crowd, "Here comes your, Missus, Hutchinson," and "Bill, she made it after all."

Mr. Summers makes a comment about thinking that he needed to start without her.  The entire thing is innocent and generic, as if they are just a normal small town having an election or a pie eating contest.  Mrs. Hutchinson even makes a comment about leaving dishes in the sink that everyone laughs at.

This incident is included to build suspense, making the reader wonder what is really going on with this lottery.  Everything seems so harmless and normal, but there is an undercurrent of nervous laughter, as if everything is not really okay.  As we get closer to the real lottery, the tension builds.  Mrs. Hutchinson being late is another notch of tension adding to the sense that something is not right here, before the reader finds out the lottery's deadly purpose.