Lamb to the Slaughter Essay

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Lamb to the Slaughter


“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl is a short story with a surprise ending. The theme of the story is deception.  In the story Mr Patrick Maloney, a police officer, seemed a happy married man to his pregnant wife, Mrs. Mary Maloney.   Mr Maloney comes home one night, shocking his wife with the news he is leaving her.   Mrs. Maloney is in great shock and she kills her husband, with a frozen leg of lamb.

Throughout the opening section of the story Roald Dahl takes great care in revealing Mary Maloney's character as being content with her situation in life. The narrator describes Mary's home as being “...warm and clean”:

        “...the two table lamps alight- hers and the one by the empty chair opposite...”

This shows she is eagerly waiting for her husband’s return and has everything ready and waiting for him. This description suggests that Mary’s home is a friendly place where she and her husband live happily. At this early stage in her life it seems that Mary is very much contented with her life. The author depicts Mary as being the perfect housewife and the reader is not suspicious of her in any way.

Mary is waiting for her husband to return home after a long hard day of work so that they can go out because she hasn’t “made any supper because it’s Thursday”. Mary is in her:

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“...her sixth month with child”

This description shows that Mary loves her husband and is in a very happy marriage with him. She is also looking forward to the birth of her child. Mary and Patrick also have a very fixed routine. Perhaps this is why Patrick chose to leave her because it was getting too boring for him. But there is still no indication of any problems in their family or marriage.

Mary’s character is further developed through her relationship with Patrick. When he arrives home, his behaviour seems unusual and it is suggested that Mary detects this ...

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