Character Analysis of Tessie Hutchinson in “The Lottery”

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” provides a chilling portrayal of a small town where the residents gather annually for a peculiar lottery ritual. The narrative unfolds on a picturesque summer day, with townspeople eagerly converging in the central square to partake in the traditional lottery, which involves drawing slips of paper from an age-old black box. Among the participants is Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, who, like the others, anticipates and endorses this long-standing custom, despite the growing sense that winning this lottery is far from desirable. Tessie Hutchinson, the unfortunate recipient of the lottery’s grim outcome, emerges as a character marked by procrastination, anxiety, complaint, and irritation. However, her scrutiny of the rationale behind the lottery is focused not on its existence, but on why fate has singled her out for sacrifice.

From the outset of the story, the author crafts Tessie Hutchinson’s character in a manner that seems to justify her tragic fate. Amidst the gathering of villagers, Tessie arrives belatedly, clothed in her apron, claiming to have forgotten the occasion. Even before the lottery commences, her tardiness renders her culpable, akin to a student disrupting a classroom. The irony lies in the seeming improbability of forgetting such a significant event. Reflecting on the story’s conclusion, one might speculate whether Tessie was apprehensive about this day from the start. Her moments of ease and camaraderie with the other women, prior to the lottery, prompt the notion that she was possibly apprehensive about this day all along, concealed beneath her facade of nonchalance. Curiously, when the prospect of danger is non-existent, she partakes in gossip with the other ladies and even encourages her husband’s participation in the lottery draw.

As fate decrees the selection of the Hutchinson family, Tessie is notably assertive in urging her husband to swiftly approach the box and select a slip of paper. Her behavior implies a blend of restlessness and confidence, likely stemming from her belief that their chosen slip will remain free of the ominous black dot. This blend of anxiety and eagerness to proceed with the drawing deepens the intrigue for the reader. The author skillfully builds a sense of anticipation through Tessie’s emotional turmoil, making her character a focal point as the story reaches its harrowing climax.

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