The slip of paper that denotes the annual victim of the lottery is marked only by a single dark dot. This mark looks like a spot, a blemish on the blank page. Spots and blemishes are frequently associated with disease, and so the appearance of the dot symbolizes the marking of a person for destruction, as if he or she were diseased and unsafe to others. The marked slip of paper also shows the pointlessness of the lottery itself. It is created by Joe Summers with pencil the night before the lottery, and it is only this mark, casually made by another human, that determines the fate of a person. The commonness of the object reminds us that the marked slip of paper holds no power in itself, other than the power that the villagers give it by adhering to the tradition of the lottery.
Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
The timeline below shows where the symbol The marked slip of paper appears in The Lottery. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.