The short story Lottery takes place in a rural American village. The setting is well drawn, the characters are authentic, and the story is a powerful statement about human sin and the power of God’s forgiveness and grace.
The story starts with Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves planning a lottery to be held in the village. They gather the village elders together and distribute slips of paper to the families, one per family. The papers are blank except for a dot, which will identify the winner. The man of each family takes his turn and draws the dot from a black wooden box. The lottery winner is then stoned to death by the community.
Most people who play the lottery know that their odds of winning are long, but they keep playing because they want to believe that they can win. They have quote-unquote systems that are not based on statistical reasoning and they buy their tickets at certain stores at certain times of the day and they believe in all kinds of irrational things that help them to stay hopeful.
The lottery is a form of gambling that has been around for a long time. It was common in the Roman Empire-Nero liked it a lot-and is attested to in the Bible, where lots are used for everything from determining kingship to choosing which garments of Jesus should be kept after his crucifixion. In modern times, state-sponsored lotteries have become popular as a way to raise revenue without enraging anti-tax voters.