Shirley Jackson · 302 pages
Rating: (53.9K votes)
“Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd.
"All right, folks," Mr. Summers said. "Let's finish quickly."
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. Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. "Come on," she said. "Hurry up."
Mrs. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said, gasping for breath, "I can't run at all. You'll have to go ahead and I'll catch up with you."
The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.
Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. "It isn't fair," she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, "Come on, come on, everyone." Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.
"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”
“Everything that makes the world like it is now will be gone. We'll have new rules and new ways of living. Maybe there'll be a law not to live in houses, so then no one can hide from anyone else, you see.”
“Upstairs Margaret said abruptly, 'I suppose it starts to happen first in the suburbs,' and when Brad said, 'What starts to happen?' she said hysterically, 'People starting to come apart.”
“The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 2th. but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.”
“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. Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything's being done. The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained.
Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, held the black box securely on the stool until Mr. Summers had stirred the papers thoroughly with his hand. Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood, Mr. Summers had argued, had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing, it was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into he black box. The night before the lottery, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves made up the slips of paper and put them in the box, and it was then taken to the safe of Mr. Summers' coal company and locked up until Mr. Summers was ready to take it to the square next morning. The rest of the year, the box was put way, sometimes one place, sometimes another; it had spent one year in Mr. Graves's barn and another year underfoot in the post office. and sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there.”
“Grace Paley once described the male-female writer phenomenon to me by saying, “Women have always done men the favor of reading their work, but the men have not returned the favor.”
“That’s wrong, Mrs. Winning was thinking, you mustn’t ever talk about whether people like you, that’s bad taste.”
“Is everyone really crazy but me?”
“In a period of international crisis," the doctor said gently, "when you find, for instance, cultural patterns rapidly disintergrating..."
"International crisis," Mrs. Arnold said. "Patterns." She began to cry quietly.
[...] "Reality," she said, and went out.”
“Ask your mommy can we have two chairs out here," Billy said. "Then we can pretend the whole garden is our house.”
“Balance the world in your relationship. No one person should be responsible for killing ALL the Zombies.”
“A laugh burst from Nina's lips. "Not as awkward as it must be for you. Honey, please. If you bent around any harder trying to let me know you fucked Lex to try and make me feel bad, you'd be a pretzel. Although you're about as smart as one.”
“Traditions and customs which had lasted for centuries did not die out in a moment.”
“I’m gonna apply for law school for next year. I already took the LSATs and I did good.” “You really want to be a fuckin’ lawyer?” Del asked. “Look in the yellow pages. There are thousands of them. They’re like rats.” “Yeah, I know. I don’t know what to do. I used to think I could be a defense lawyer, but now, you know, after looking at four years of dirtbags, maybe not,” Lucas said. “So then I’m thinking about being a prosecutor, but then I see the prosecutors we work with, and the political bullshit they put up with, and I’m thinking . . .”
“Ele tinha o desespero, não a coragem, para ser ele mesmo. Uma vez que você tem isso, você não pode dar errado, porque você não pode cometer nenhum erro quando as pessoas o amam por você ser você mesmo. Mas, para Kurt, não importava que as outras pessoas o amassem; ele simplesmente não se amava o bastante.”
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