The Lottery

The Black Box Symbol Icon

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.

The Black Box Quotes in The Lottery

The The Lottery quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Black Box. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of The Lottery published in 2005.
The Lottery Quotes

The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here.

Related Characters: Mr. Joe Summers, Old Man Warner
Related Symbols: The Black Box
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Black Box Symbol Timeline in The Lottery

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.
The Lottery
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
Family Structure and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...his wife is unkind and the couple has no children. Mr. Summers arrives bearing a black box . He is followed by the postmaster, Mr. Graves, who caries a stool. (full context)
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
Mr. Graves sets the stool in the center of the square and the black box is placed upon it. Mr. Summers asks for help as he stirs the slips of... (full context)
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...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)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Family Structure and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...Summers is only required to address each person as he comes forward to draw from the black box . Mr. Summers is dressed cleanly and seems proper and important as he chats with... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...the slips of paper back and puts five, including the marked slip of paper, in the black box . The others he drops on the ground, where a breeze catches them. Mrs. Hutchinson... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...help little Davy. Mr. Graves takes the boy’s hand and walks with him up to the black box . Davy laughs as he reaches into the box. Mr. Summers tells him to take... (full context)