I just read a fascinating quote at the blog of the charming and erudite Aunt B., and upon following the link to the source I found an excellent and thought-provoking blog post. Therein I got stuck rereading the following passage, which I will present without further comment:
That was the story’s nastiest take-away, the buried contempt in Jackson’s refusal to make Tessie in any way admirable or special. There’s no-one that we’re allowed to identify with in order to reassure ourselves that we’re good people: No idealistic young townsperson pointing out that, gosh golly gee, these Lotteries are killing people, no Katniss, no virtuous Christ getting nailed to the cross. These Lotteries are our values, they’re what we do. Participating in the Lottery is being a good person, isn’t it? Anyway, the only person who ever objects is the one who’s getting their skull crushed at the moment, and we don’t listen to them; it’s just a bunch of screaming. It’s always fair and right, until it’s you, is the intensely obvious message here, and it’s harsher for the fact that we know Tessie’s killed plenty of people, and never saw a problem with it until the first rock hit her.