Lamb to the slaughter by Roal Dahl

Essay by HyaatHigh School, 11th gradeA, May 2004

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In class we read, "Lamb to the slaughter", written by Roal Dahl. The story takes place one evening in the home of the Maloneys, who seem to be an ordinary married couple. Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband Patrick, a policeman, to come home. Mary is pregnant and happy and looking forward to his return. However, Patrick has a nasty surprise for her. He says that he is going to leave her. Mary enters a state of shock and acts as if nothing has happened. From the deep freeze she gets a leg of frozen lamb for dinner. When her husband repeats that he's going out, Mary hits him over the head with the lamb and kills him. Next she creates an alibi by going to the grocers, then calls the police who search for the murder weapon. Meanwhile Mary persuades them to eat the leg of lamb, which she'd put in the oven, so they have destroyed the evidence.

The opening mood of the story is calm and happy:

"The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight." It also presents the main character as being calm:

"The drop of the head as she bent over her sewing was curiously tranquil." Mary seems to be a perfect housewife in a perfect room, perfectly at home.

The mood changes when Patrick drinks his first glass of whisky in one go. Then pours himself another, even stronger. At first will not speak to Mary, and she soon senses that something is wrong Patrick clearly tells Mary that he is leaving her but the writer leaves it to the reader to figure it out why. I imagine Patrick is leaving her because he is bored with his life with her because...