The stones that the villagers use to kill the victim selected by the lottery are mentioned periodically throughout the story. This repetition develops the stones as a symbol of the violence that humans are seemingly always prepared to commit. Young children gather the stones into piles at the beginning of the short story, and at the end the villagers take up these stones to hurl them at Tessie Hutchinson. Even Tessie’s son, little Davy Hutchinson, is offered stones to throw. These weapons are primitive, and in the hands of children they demonstrate the human instinct for violence. This symbolism is reinforced by the statement at the end of the story—that even though the villagers had forgotten the rituals associated with the lottery, “they still remembered to use stones” for the killing. This shows Jackson’s view that violence is fundamental to human nature, something that cannot be forgotten.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Stones appears in The Lottery. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...the village square first, enjoying their summer leisure time. Bobby Martin fills his pockets with stones, and other boys do the same. Bobby helps Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix build a... (full context)
...villagers have forgotten several aspects of the lottery’s original ritual, but they remember to use stones for performing the final act. There are stones in the boys’ piles and some others... (full context)