What is Lottery?

Lottery is a procedure by which something is distributed among people by chance. It is most commonly associated with the distribution of money, but it may also involve other prizes. It is often compared to gambling, in that it is a form of risk taking in which individuals pay for the opportunity to win something of value. The likelihood of winning a lottery prize varies widely depending on the number of tickets purchased, the price of the ticket, the number of tickets sold, the odds of winning, and other factors. The lottery has a long history of use in many cultures, with the first recorded keno slips dating from the Han dynasty in China (205 and 187 BC).

In this story set in an unnamed small town, residents gather in the village square for their yearly lottery. Children on summer break are the first to assemble, playing with stones as they wait for adults to begin the event. The children are chided by their fathers for their disobedient behavior, but soon the adults are gathered as well, displaying the stereotypical normalcy of small-town life as they chat warmly and gossip.

Mr. Summers, the official in charge of the lottery, has filled a box with slips of paper the previous day and kept it locked overnight. When he begins to call the names, everyone sighs as little Dave’s paper is revealed to be blank; Bill and Nancy’s papers are found to have black spots. Finally, Tessie Hutchinson is called to reveal her slip, which bears a single black mark; she pleads for the villagers to stop throwing the stones at her.