Who or what is the protagonist and antagonist of the story, "The Lottery"?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The protagonist is the most prominent, or central, character in a story. The protagonist of the short story "The Lottery" is Tessie, but she is a representative of the whole village. All the villagers, just like Tessie, are equally bound to, and affected by, the lottery. They all have the same chance as Tessie of being picked as "winners," which entails that each villager lives, albeit obliviously, with the terrifying thought of death in the back of their minds.

While Tessie is the selected villager in this particular celebration of the lottery, the reality is that it could have been any of them, by rule of probability. Therefore, the whole village is truly the protagonist of the story but, in this particular version of the lottery, the protagonist would be Tessie because she stands out even further by being the selected one to die.

This being said, the antagonist is the opponent of the protagonist. It is the person, place, force of nature, spiritual intervention, or thing that prevents the protagonist from accomplishing his or her purpose in the story.

From the very moment that Tess enters the story, she has had a problem with the lottery being conducted. She was doing her dishes, and had to stop her duties as a housewife, because of the lottery.

"Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you. Joe?,

When her family is picked, she realizes that the end is coming.

"You didn't give him time
enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!"

When her name is finally pulled, she knows her death is impending. Therefore, the fact that the lottery brings death, and thus the end to all the purpose of anyone who is selected, makes it the antagonist of the story.