The Lottery

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Mrs. Janey Dunbar Character Analysis

Clyde Dunbar’s wife and the only woman to draw in the lottery. Husbands, as the heads of households, draw for their families. A grown son might also take on this role, but the Dunbars’ children are too young. Mrs. Dunbar seems to subtly resist the proceedings of the lottery. When the killing is about to start, she tells her son to run and tell his father who was chosen—perhaps saving the boy from witnessing the experience that year. Mrs. Dunbar also tells Mrs. Delacroix to run ahead of her as the crowd pursues Tessie—perhaps trying to avoid taking part in the murder.

Mrs. Janey Dunbar Quotes in The Lottery

The The Lottery quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Janey Dunbar or refer to Mrs. Janey Dunbar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of The Lottery published in 2005.
The Lottery Quotes

“Me, I guess,” a woman said, and Mr. Summers turned to look at her. “Wife draws for her husband.” Mr. Summers said. "”Don't you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?” “Horace’s not but sixteen yet,” Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. “Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year.”

Related Characters: Mr. Joe Summers (speaker), Mrs. Janey Dunbar (speaker), Clyde Dunbar, Horace Dunbar
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:

The first stage of the lottery requires the head of each household to draw a slip of paper from the black box on behalf of his household. This task is always completed by the men of each family, with one exception this year: Mrs. Dunbar must draw for her incapacitated husband, who cannot attend the lottery. The discussion around this event shows the sexist assumptions behind the system of the lottery itself. The "head of household" is always assumed to be a man, meaning that a grown son will draw for his mother, as Mr. Summers wonders about in this passage.

The women accept this hierarchy—that only men can handle the responsibility of drawing for the lottery—as Mrs. Dunbar's statement and tone shows. She takes on the role of head of her household only “regretfully.” This is one of several passages that show the importance of the structure of the traditional family and the dynamic between men and women to the proceedings of the lottery. The formal proceedings of the lottery highlight the importance the village places on a patriarchal family hierarchy.

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Mrs. Janey Dunbar Character Timeline in The Lottery

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Janey Dunbar appears in The Lottery. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Lottery
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Family Structure and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...Delacroix is called forward, and Mrs. Delacroix holds her breath. “Dunbar” is called, and as Janey Dunbar walks steadily forward the women say, “go on, Janey,” and “there she goes.” (full context)
Family Structure and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
Mrs. Dunbar says to her oldest son that she wishes everyone would hurry up, and Horace replies... (full context)
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...crowd begins to ask who has it. Some begin to say that it’s Bill Hutchinson. Mrs. Dunbar tells her son to go tell his father who was chosen, and Horace leaves. Bill... (full context)
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...Mrs. Delacroix selects a large stone she can barely lift. “Hurry up,” she says to Mrs. Dunbar beside her. Mrs. Dunbar gasps for breath and says that she can’t run. Go ahead,... (full context)