The black box is the container from which the villagers draw the slips of paper for the lottery, and as part of this tradition, it has special meaning for the villagers. The box is worn and old, but the villagers do not want to “upset tradition” by replacing it, even though it is not even the original box used for the ritual. The black box is an artifact, and, like all artifacts, is culturally and historically important to its people. The black box is a symbol to the villagers of the longevity of their tradition and the fact that many people before them have upheld the practice of the lottery. The black box lends confidence to the villagers because it reminds them to trust in the tradition of their forefathers—never considering that those traditions might be immoral.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The Black Box appears in The Lottery. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...replace the original pieces of wood with slips of paper, which fit more easily in the black box now that the population of the village has grown to three hundred. The night before... (full context)