Student Question

What are Janey Dunbar's feelings about drawing for her husband in "The Lottery"?

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At the start of the annual lottery, Mr. Summers asks if there is anybody missing from the lottery, and the crowd responds by saying that Clyde Dunbar is missing. After consulting his notes, Mr. Summers is reminded that Clyde Dunbar broke his leg, so he calls on his wife to draw for their household. Typically, husbands draw for their families, or the oldest son is given the honors. Since Horace Dunbar is not old enough to draw for his family, the responsibility falls on Janey Dunbar, the mother. When Mr. Summers asks who will be drawing for the Dunbar family, Janey responds by saying,

Me. I guess . . . Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year.

Janey Dunbar's response to Mr. Summers's inquiry reveals that she is reluctant and hesitant to draw for her family. Janey does not come across as enthused and is rather unwilling to draw for her family. It is subtly suggested that she does not approve of the annual lottery; she even sends Horace home before the killing begins. Perhaps Janey is saving her young son from witnessing the horrifying experience. Regardless of her intent, Janey Dunbar is reluctant and anxious about drawing for her family.

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