The crowd has gathered in the small village for the annual lottery, which takes place every year at the end of June. Every family head is summoned to take a slip of paper from the box in the village square's center. The lottery is administered by Mr. Summers.
When Tessie Hutchinson finds that her husband, Bill, is the center of the villagers' attention, a conflict develops. Something is written on the scrap of paper he took. Tessie starts yelling that it's not fair, and that Mr. Summers didn't allow Bill enough time to pick the paper he wanted.
The entire Hutchinson family, Bill, Tessie, Bill, Jr., 12-year-old Nancy, and toddler Little Davy, are called up to the box. Mr. Summers puts five slips of paper into the box, including the one Bill Hutchinson had been holding when he was chosen.
Each member of the Hutchinson family draws a slip of paper from the box. All of the papers are blank, except for Tessie’s, which has a black dot in pencil on it.
Tessie begins to scream that it’s not fair, it’s not right. The villagers begin to pick up the stones they’d gathered earlier and form a circle around Tessie. They want to get this over with before noon dinner.
As Tessie screams, a stone hits her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner, the oldest man in the village, urges the villagers on. The villagers descend upon Tessie with the stones.