“Remember,” Mr. Summers said, “take the slips and keep them folded until each person has taken one. Harry, you help little Dave. ” Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boy, who came willingly with him up to the box. “Take a paper out of the box, Davy,” Mr. Summers said. Davy put his hand into the box and laughed. “Take just one paper. ” Mr. Summers said. “Harry, you hold it for him. ” Mr. Graves took the child’s hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly.
One of the starkest moments in the story is when the narrator bluntly states, "A stone hit her on the side of the head." From a grammatical standpoint, the sentence is structured so that no one actually threw the stone -- it's as if the stone hit Tessie of its own accord. All the villagers participate (even giving Tessie's young son some pebbles to throw), so no one individually takes responsibility for the murder. And that, to me, is Jackson's most compelling explanation of why this barbaric tradition manages to continue.