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Tessie Hutchinson arrives late. Author Shirley Jackson devotes two paragraphs to Tessie's arrival and her immersion into the crowd, beginning with the following sentence:

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...

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Tessie Hutchinson arrives late. Author Shirley Jackson devotes two paragraphs to Tessie's arrival and her immersion into the crowd, beginning with the following sentence:

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.

The purpose of having Tessie Hutchinson arrive late and attract special attention is apparently not to foreshadow that she will be the person selected to be stoned. Rather, the author's purpose seems to be to characterize her more fully than any of the others, so the reader will visualize her distinctly and feel more sympathy for her than for a character who received no more introduction than a name and a line or two of dialogue. If Tessie is going to be the victim of the lottery, then she needs to be introduced without having the reader suspect a special purpose, if possible.

"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."

Tessie is characterized as a perfectly simple, ordinary, countrified woman. We learn mainly through her dialogue that she is married and has kids. She looks for her husband Bill and goes to join him. Another good sample of the dialogue that Shirley Jackson uses to characterize Tessie is when she says, "Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you, Joe?"

If the true purpose of this annual lottery were known at this point in the story, then the reader might suspect that all the attention being given to Tessie Hutchinson, here and during the drawing, was intended to make her death more upsetting. Even though Tessie is not much different from any of the other country people in the assembly, she stands out from all the others when she picks the slip of paper with the black spot. The reader can see and hear her because she has been singled out and fully characterized. Perhaps the fact that she is such a simple, ordinary, inoffensive housewife makes her fate seem all the more horrible.

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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.

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