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 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.
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…