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.
The narrator uses Old Man Warner as a touchstone to show just how long the lottery has been occurring. The fact that he has never seen the original box highlights the age of the ritual. Readers note, however, that he regards the lottery as a sacred tradition that must be followed to bring prosperity to their village.
Old Man Warner snorted. “Pack of crazy fools,” he said. “Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while.”
Old Man Warner responds to Mr. Adams who tells him that another village had given up the lottery. In Old Man Warner’s eyes, doing away with the lottery would be akin to going back to primitive times. He believes that society would fail without the lottery. His belief, likely shared by many in their community, indicates how people could be willing to accept such a violent tradition.
“Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery,” Old Man Warner said as he went through the crowd. “Seventy-seventh time.”
Old Man Warner speaks these words to himself as much as to anyone else as he goes forward to the box after Mr. Summers calls his name. Old Man Warner seems to be proud that he has survived seventy-seven lotteries, as if he possesses survival skills or luck that others do not. However, readers know that chance, not skill, determines who will die.
“It’s not the way it used to be,” Old Man Warner said clearly. “People ain’t the way they used to be.”
Old Man Warner responds to the crowd after some express their hope that Nancy Hutchinson will not be chosen, simply because of her youth. Old Man Warner clearly disapproves of this type of sentiment, seeing it as evidence that people have become softer over time. As he has been through seventy-seven lotteries and has survived them all, he views any fear as a weakness.
Old Man Warner was saying, “Come on, come on, everyone.”
Old Man Warner encourages the villagers to act as they descend upon Tessie. Not only does Old Man Warner believe that their society depends on the lottery, but he eagerly desires to carry out the final punishment and encourages others to do so as well. His character demonstrates the danger in following rituals blindly simply because they have always been done.