This story is basically about an old tradition practiced in the village-the 'lottery'. Firstly, the definition...this lottery in the story is a ritual held yearly, every 27th of June. The head of each family (the oldest able man in the family) living in the village draws a slip of paper. The family that draws a special slip of paper with a black dot on it is the 'winner'. Then, members from this family, along with all of their sons and their own family members (daughters draw with their husbands) have to re-draw. This time, the person who draws the slip of paper with the dot will be the victim. The other villagers would then stone him/her to death.
I quite agree with the view that "The Lottery" is not so much about human cruelty than about man's conservative nature. The villagers all seem to be advancing technologically, as seen from the men's conversation about "tractors and taxes", yet, with regards to this old ritual that has no base or any obvious reasoning behind it and demands that someone be killed, why do they still follow it? Why, because of their conservative nature!
Maybe the more matured adults have some doubts about still continuing the lottery, but they may have been afraid of the reaction of others and dreaded any consequences-who knows-if they didn't manage to stop the lottery, they may be the next one chosen.
Thus, even as Mr. Adams delicately hinted at quitting the lottery by providing some news about other villages quitting it, he was quite ready to give it up. Old Man Warner is a good example of the older people in the village, who are very conservative, and resent any changes to their lives.
Yes, human cruelty may have been...