The short story “The Lottery” takes place in a small American town. Every year on June 27th the villagers in this town gather to hold their annual lottery. The head of each family will draw a slip of paper and the family that picks the one with a black spot on it is the unlucky winner. Then each family member will draw again to determine the winner of the lottery. The winner will then be stoned down by the rest of the town including their own family until the winner is dead. This annual event is a town wide tradition that has gone on for over 90 years. Jackson's story thus symbolizes the nature of humanity when in regards to tradition.
Another form of symbolism is that of the violent nature of the "lottery". One thinks of a lottery as a prize whereas in this story it is quite the opposite. But, the so called prize does not seem to bother any of the townspeople because they are so blinded by tradition and greed that they consider it to be very normal. There are indications throughout the story that a few people are beginning to believe that maybe the tradition of the lottery is not all that rational. "Some places have already quit lotteries." Mrs. Adams said. However, when people start speaking out against the tradition it is silenced by the voices of majority and tradition. Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools."
It seems to be fear that stops those who wish to discontinue the tradition from speaking out against it. The settings and atmosphere of the story make one think that it is going to be a beautiful day with a lucky winner. The outcome however, is cruel. The townspeople are full of anxiety on the day of the lottery. They are willing to kill an innocent person so their superstitions of a good harvest will remain. It is that anxiety that symbolizes cruelty and tradition in this story. It is not until the end that one realizes that the town is so ordinary that it refuses to turn down such a ridiculous tradition.