A lottery is an arrangement in which something (usually money or prizes) is distributed among people who have paid for the chance of receiving it. Modern lotteries are gambling games that are governed by the law of probability, and are often organized to give a portion of the profits to charitable causes. The word lottery derives from the Greek (literally, “divide by lot”). Lotteries have been used since ancient times to distribute property or slaves and are common in many countries. They have also been used as a substitute for taxes.
In modern times, lotteries are organized by public and private organizations and offer a variety of prize categories including cash, goods, services, or real estate. The prize amounts are based on the total pool of money collected from ticket purchases, after expenses and profit for the organizer are deducted. Most lotteries have a large main prize and several smaller ones, with the overall value of the prizes determined in advance.
Jackson’s purpose in writing the story is to show that terrible things can be done and that humans are evil by nature. He shows that the villagers are not aware of how horrible their actions are because they have taken it for granted that it is a part of their community customs. He also illustrates how everyone is blindly following tradition by stating that the villagers greet each other and exchange bits of gossip while doing the lottery.