The Lottery--Shirley Jackson
"The Lottery" (1948)
by Shirley Jackson
The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers
were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in
the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many
people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 2th. but in this village, where there
were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten
o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.
The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of
liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke
into boisterous play. and their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands.
Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his
example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix-- the
villagers pronounced this name "Dellacroy"--eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the
square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys. The girls stood aside, talking among themselves,
looking over their shoulders at rolled in the dust or clung to the hands of their older brothers or sisters.
Soon the men began to gather. surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and
taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they
smiled rather than laughed. The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after
their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands.
Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call to their children, and the children came
reluctantly, having to be called four or five times. Bobby Martin ducked under his mother's grasping hand
and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones. His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and
took his place between his father and his oldest brother.
The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program--by Mr.
Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. He was a round-faced, jovial man and he
ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him. because he had no children and his wife was a
scold. When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of
conversation among the villagers, and he waved and called. "Little late today, folks." The postmaster, Mr.
Graves, followed him, carrying a three- legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and