Student Question

What unsettling and horrifying ideas did Tessie Hutchinson protest in "The Lottery"?

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Tessie Hutchinson seems cheerful from the time she arrives for the lottery drawing. She makes light of the ritual when her husband's name is called for the first drawing.

"Get up there, Bill," Mrs. Hutchinson said. and the people near her laughed.

But Tessie's attitude changes radically when it turns out that this year her husband has drawn the slip with the black spot.

People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly. Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!"

Tessie knows that only the Hutchinsons will participate in the second drawing. That means the black spot could be drawn by her husband, her older son, her daughter Nancy, her tiny son Davie--or herself. She seems to have an ominous premonition that this is her unlucky day and that she will end up with the black spot.

What would be considered unsettling and horrifying is Tessie's next attempt to save herself.

"There's Don and Eva," Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. "Make them take their chance!"

Eva is the Hutchinsons' oldest daughter. She is no longer a Hutchinson, however, because she is married and has taken her husband Don's last name. Tessie is well aware that Eva is no longer part of her household, but she is desperate. If she could add one more slip to the second drawing it would improve the odds for her and for the rest of her family. But she is willing to offer Eva as a possible sacrifice because of the terror she is experiencing. In fact, in this lottery it appears to be a case of every man, or woman, or child, for himself or herself. Mr. Summers, whose word is law, destroys any hope of including Eva with the Hutchinson household.

"Daughters draw with their husbands' families, Tessie," Mr. Summers said gently. "You know that as well as anyone else."

In the second drawing when Bill, Bill, Jr., and Nancy draw their slips they gleefully open them and show the crowd they drew blanks. Little Dave's slip has to be drawn and opened for him. His slip is also blank. None of Tessie's family pay the slightest attention to her protests or obvious hysteria; they are just happy to have escaped for another year. Tessie has become a non-person. Nobody shows any concern for her. This is understandable, since they could hardly participate in stoning her to death if they regarded her as a fellow human being. This lottery brings out the worst in everybody. Nobody cares about Tessie, and Tessie cares about nobody but herself. She would be willing to help stone one of her own children to death if it would save her from that fate herself.

The crowd of friendly, neighborly, countrified people suddenly becomes like a gathering of ghouls. They close on Tessie from all sides, seemingly intent on dealing with her pleas for mercy by silencing them with their stones.

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