What is the Lottery?


Lottery is a form of gambling in which numbers are drawn to win prizes. It is one of the most popular forms of gambling and it has become an important source of state revenue. Lotteries are usually conducted by a government or by private companies that contract with the state to operate them. The prizes may be cash or goods. The lottery can also be used to distribute seats in a school or unit in a subsidized housing block.

The story opens with a housewife named Tessie finishing her breakfast dishes so that she won’t be late for The Lottery. This is the day when every family in town draws a slip of paper from a black box. One slip is marked with a black spot, and if the head of a family draws it, then that family must sacrifice a member for the good of the community.

As the villagers draw their tickets, there’s banter among them. An old man, who is something like a village patriarch, quotes a traditional rhyme: “Lottery in June/ Corn be heavy soon.” Tessie herself has no objection to the lottery ritual; she just wants to get through it faster so that she can go home to feed her children before they’re hungry again.

The story’s plot shows that people are unable to stop playing the lottery even when they’re reminded of its risks. There is something inextricable about human nature that makes us crave the thrill of winning. It’s a little bit like the fact that we all enjoy eating food, so long as it’s edible.

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