What do the children symbolize in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The children are probably intended to represent the next generation of citizens who are being taught how to participate in the annual lottery. It is because each new generation of children is taught to participate, and sees their parents and parents' parents participate, that the lottery continues. The whole procedure of drawing and stoning is solemn and serious, although there is no sense to it, and never was. If children were not indoctrinated at the earliest age, the lottery would cease to exist. Little Davy, who is a member of the Hutchinson family, appears to be only about two years old, yet he is being shown how to draw the slip of paper which could contain the black spot that would mean his own death. A group of boys who are a bit older already know the important rules. They are collecting rocks to throw at the person who will be selected. All ages are represented in the story for the purpose of showing that the lottery is an age-old tradition. Davy will be like Old Man Warner someday, if he manages to survive all the annual drawings. By that time, Davy will be thoroughly convinced of the value and necessity of this superstitious event.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial