The Lottery

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Tessie Hutchinson Character Analysis

The woman selected by the lottery to be sacrificed, she is stoned to death by the villagers at the very end of the story. Tessie arrives late at the lottery, saying she forgot the day. Her casual attitude as she jokes with her neighbors changes dramatically when the Hutchinson family is selected in the lottery. She attempts to claim that the drawing wasn’t fair, appealing, unsuccessfully, to her neighbors and friends with whom she had chatted amiably just before.

Tessie Hutchinson Quotes in The Lottery

The The Lottery quotes below are all either spoken by Tessie Hutchinson or refer to Tessie Hutchinson. 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

Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully, “thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie.” Mrs. Hutchinson said, grinning, “Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now, would you, Joe?” And soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson’s arrival.

Related Characters: Mr. Joe Summers (speaker), Tessie Hutchinson
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:

Just as the lottery is about to begin, a nearly tardy villager arrives: Tessie Hutchinson. Tessie’s arrival immediately sets her apart from the crowd of villagers, as her late appearance suggests a casual attitude about the proceedings of the lottery. She also makes a joke and gets a positive response, which suggests her relaxed personality and shows how well-liked she is among the villagers.

At this point in the story, the reader is unaware of the grim truth about the lottery, but in retrospect the levity of this passage shows the lightheartedness with which these people treat violence. Both Tessie and Mr. Summers are cheerful, as if at a fun social gathering. Tessie changes when she is singled out by the lottery, but this passage raises the question: would Tessie have continued to be cheerful if she wasn’t the victim of the lottery?

This scene also shows the traditional gender roles of this village. Tessie is washing her dishes, and she jokes to Mr. Summers about whether she should have left them undone. This implies that a husband would chuckle appreciatively at a wife who was dedicated to her work. It is clear from this joke that Tessie doesn’t expect Mr. Summers or her husband to be doing the dishes—such domestic work is reserved exclusively for women.

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“Be a good sport, Tessie,” Mrs. Delacroix called, and Mrs. Graves said, “All of us took the same chance.”
“Shut up, Tessie,” Bill Hutchinson said.

Related Characters: Bill Hutchinson (speaker), Mrs. Graves (speaker), Mrs. Delacroix (speaker), Tessie Hutchinson
Page Number: 298-299
Explanation and Analysis:

When Bill Hutchinson draws the marked slip of paper from the black box, his wife protests against the proceedings of the lottery. Tessie’s tone changes dramatically from her original cheerfulness and humor, and despite her protests, the villagers are not sympathetic. This quote shows the readiness of these villagers to turn against each other when the stakes are high. Mrs. Delacroix and Mrs. Graves, who are friends and neighbors of Tessie's, do not listen to her complaints, as they are most likely relieved to not have been chosen themselves.

Bill Hutchinson’s reaction to his wife’s protests is more dramatic, as he overrides and silences her. This shows that he sees himself as the head of his household, and, according to the villagers' gender roles, able to tell his wife what to do. He belittles her, perhaps out of embarrassment that she would publicly complain about the proceedings of the lottery. It seems from the villagers’ reactions that Tessie has stepped out of line—by protesting, she hasn’t acted as she is expected to as a woman, wife, and villager.

“There’s Don and Eva,” Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. “Make them take their chance!”
“Daughters draw with their husbands’ families, Tessie,” Mr. Summers said gently. “You know that as well as anyone else.”

Related Characters: Tessie Hutchinson (speaker), Eva, Don, Mr. Joe Summers
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:

Tessie continues to protest about the proceedings of the lottery, despite the fact that the villagers and her husband try to silence her. Tessie’s complaints include her asking that Don and Eva also “take a chance” along with the rest of the family. Although the outcome of the lottery is still unclear to the reader at this point, Tessie’s strong reaction shows that it is not a desirable thing to be the person who picks the marked slip of paper. Although the exact identities of Don and Eva are not explained, this quote describes Eva as a daughter who is participating in the lottery with the family of her husband, Don. This implies that Eva was once a member of the Hutchinson household—probably Tessie’s daughter. Tessie knows the outcome of the lottery, yet she wants to force Don and Eva to also draw in the lottery with her family, presumably because this will increase the number of people participating in stage two of the draw, which only features the Hutchinson family. If more people draw, Tessie herself will be less likely to draw the marked slip of paper.

This quote shows a universal human need for survival and self-protection. Tessie is willing to risk her daughter and her daughter's husband in order to increase the chances of her own survival. Tessie is not a hero, despite her initial self-confidence and protestations against the barbaric lottery. Furthermore, the tradition of a daughter joining her husband to participate in the lottery shows again that women are treated as secondary to men in this village. According to traditional gender roles, a woman marries into her husband’s family, and not the reverse.

Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office.

Related Characters: Tessie Hutchinson, Bill Hutchinson, Mr. Joe Summers
Related Symbols: The marked slip of paper
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

Once the members of the Hutchinson family each draw a slip of paper in stage two of the lottery, the children open theirs and are relieved that their slips of paper are blank. Tessie doesn’t unfold hers until her husband forces her hand open, revealing that she has been chosen by the lottery. This act shows Bill Hutchinson’s dominance over Tessie. When she first appears in the story, Tessie is self-confident and funny, but her husband draws for their family in the lottery, tells her to shut up when she complains, and reveals that she is the victim of the lottery in this scene. All of these actions show Bill Hutchinson following the traditions of the village and the proceedings of the lottery rather than listening to his wife or trying to protect her from the lottery. It is clear that his love for her (if he does love her) is outweighed by his devotion to the tradition of the lottery.

The slip of paper in Tessie’s hand was marked by Mr. Summers with a pencil the night before. This detail shows the contrast between the object of the marked slip of paper and the importance the villagers place on it. The process of making the slip of paper is as mundane and unimportant as it could be. But at the same time, the marked paper decides the very life or death of a person. This reinforces the ridiculousness of the lottery, and how the villagers adhere to it despite many indications that it is insignificant and pointless, in addition to being cruel and harmful. It is only tradition and a fear of change that keeps the village entrenched in this monstrous practice.

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box…

Related Characters: Tessie Hutchinson
Related Symbols: Stones, The Black Box
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

Once Tessie has been selected as the victim of the lottery, the truth of the tradition is revealed as the villagers pick up stones. This quote describing the villagers’ act of arming themselves with stones reminds the reader of several key ideas already established in the story. First, this passage points out the aspects of the lottery that have been lost, but they are set up as different than the use of stones, which has been consistent throughout the years that the lottery has been in existence. Therefore, the villagers don’t forget to use stones, which shows that violence (unlike other details of ritual) is unforgettable. Using a stone as a weapon is part of human psychology, a primitive means of attack or self-defense.

This quote also references the beginning of the story, where the young boys were collecting stones. This early passage is recast in a grim light as these stones, which the reader once assumed to be playthings, are transformed into murder weapons. Even the young children are involved in this violence, which further shows that violence is instinctual. Innocent activities, such as children playing or the everyday life in this village, do not exclude the possibility of violence, which can occur anywhere.

The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

Related Characters: Tessie Hutchinson, Davy Hutchinson
Related Symbols: Stones
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

The villagers pick up stones to use them as weapons, but the children have already armed themselves. Little Davy Hutchinson, Tessie's son, is too young to understand the proceedings, but someone older gives him some stones. This quote shows that even the children are enthusiastic about the proceedings of the lottery when they get swept up in the crowd—illustrating how violence is part of human nature, as this story repeatedly emphasizes. But, at the same time, this quote also shows that violence can be a learned behavior. Because Davy Hutchinson is given stones by someone older than himself, he is being taught to participate in violence.

Therefore, in this story, violence arises from both nature and nurture. In a village where conformity and tradition are highly valued, the next generation is taught to follow the actions of an older generation. This also shows how traditions are continued and maintained: they are learned from an older generation. Despite the discussion in this story of an end to the lottery in this village, it seems clear that the next generation is already learning to carry on this violent tradition.

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, “Come on, come on, everyone.” Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.
“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

Related Characters: Tessie Hutchinson (speaker), Old Man Warner (speaker), Mrs. Graves, Steve Adams
Related Symbols: Stones
Page Number: 302
Explanation and Analysis:

The story ends with the stoning of Tessie Hutchinson. She stands alone in a cleared space as the villagers approach, armed with stones. This outcome of events unfolds in the last several few lines, making the "twist" particularly shocking, partly because of the effort early in the story to establish that this is an average, nice village. The cruelty of the villagers and their collective thinking is apparent in this final passage, especially in the last words “and then they were upon her”—language that evokes the brutality of a pack of dogs, not humans. Old Man Warner is egging the villagers on as they attack, encouraging them, showing that the villagers are working as a unit. Despite the mob mentality of the villagers, specific individuals are mentioned in the crowd. Steve Adams and Mrs. Graves have already been established in the story as regular people, yet they appear eager for violence in this passage.

Tessie stands alone, her physical isolation showing that she has been isolated as a solitary voice standing up against the crowd. She tries to protest, shifting from “it isn’t fair” to “it isn’t right”—the last words the reader hears from her. She is the only voice of reason in a group that has gone insane. The fairness of the lottery has been emphasized to Tessie—as the other villagers reminded her that everyone took a fair chance at being chosen. However, it is clear Tessie's death is pointless and not right.

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Tessie Hutchinson Character Timeline in The Lottery

The timeline below shows where the character Tessie Hutchinson appears in The Lottery. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Lottery
Family Structure and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Just as Mr. Summers stops chanting in order to start the lottery, Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson arrives in the square. She tells Mrs. Delacroix that she “clean forgot what day... (full context)
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
Family Structure and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...to her husband. Mr. Summers cheerfully says that he’d thought they’d have to start without Tessie. Tessie jokes back that Mr. Summers wouldn’t have her leave her dirty dishes in the... (full context)
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...holding slips of paper, nervously playing with them in their hands. “Hutchinson” is called, and Tessie tells her husband to “get up there,” drawing laughs from her neighbors. (full context)
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...Horace leaves. Bill Hutchinson is quietly staring down at his piece of paper, but suddenly Tessie yells at Mr. Summers that he didn’t give her husband enough time to choose, and... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
Mrs. Delacroix tells Tessie to “be a good sport,” and Mrs. Graves reminds her “all of us took the... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...the black box. The others he drops on the ground, where a breeze catches them. Mrs. Hutchinson says that she thinks the ritual should be started over—it wasn’t fair, as Bill didn’t... (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
...watch anxiously. Bill Jr. is called, and he slips clumsily, nearly knocking over the box. Tessie gazes around angrily before snatching a slip of paper from the box. Bill selects the... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...Mr. Summers looks at Bill, who unfolds his paper to show that it is blank. “Tessie,” Mr. Summers says. Bill walks over to his wife and forces the slip of paper... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
The children pick up stones, and Davy Hutchinson is handed a few pebbles. Tessie Hutchinson holds out her arms desperately, saying, “it isn’t fair,” as the crowd advances toward... (full context)