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Lamb To The Slaughter
Transcript of Lamb To The Slaughter
By Roald Dahl
About the Author
September 13, 1916 - November 23, 1990
Born in Wales to Norwegian parents.
He had two wives and, in total, 5 children.
Roald was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot and screenwriter.
He served in the Royal Air Force during the WWII.
His short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children books are unsentimental, with a dark humour.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, etc...
Harald Dahl & Sofie Magdalene Dahl
Married to Patrick Maloney.
Mary is 6 months pregnant.
She is peaceful, calm, sensible and a very loving and caring wife.
She has a calm look and big, dark eyes.
Clever, sly and fast-thinker.
Protagonist or antagonist?
Married to Mary Maloney.
Works as a detective.
Once a loving husband.
Outspoken, hard and determined.
Protagonist or antagonist?
Is a secondary character.
Works in the neighborhood's grocery.
Is befriended with the Maloney's.
Is a secondary charater.
Works as a policeman.
Is also befriended with the Maloney's.
Are secondary characters in the story.
Are acquainted to the Maloney's.
Probably in a small town in Wales.
An afternoon (5-9 pm). In the 80's or 90's.
peaceful, tense, shocking, anxious, sad and even humour.
Point of View
- 3rd Person Omniscient
" 'But, darling, you have to eat! I'll do it anyway, and then you can have it or not, as you like.'
She stood up and put placed her sewing on the table by the lamp.
'Sit down,' he said. 'Just for a minute, sit down.'
It wasn't until then that she began to get frightened. "
The suspense begins to build up as he keeps telling her to sit down. And when she finally starts to become frightened, the mood starts getting tense and suspenseful. We start to wonder what is going to happen next.
" She loved the shape of his mouth, and she especially liked the way he didn't complain about being tired.
'Yes,' he sighed. 'I'm thoroughly exhausted.' And as he spoke, he did an unusual thing. He lifted his glass and drank it down in one swallow although there was still half of it left. He got up and went slowly to get himself another drink. "
As Patrick gets home, we can see by Patrick's actions, that something is wrong. He complains about being tired and he drinks more and stronger drinks than he normally does. The atmosphere starts getting tense and we can sense that something is going to happen.
Mary is waiting for her husband to come from work.
Her husband comes, punctually, at 10 minutes to 5.
She greets him and makes two drinks for them.
They begin talking.
Patrick starts doing unusual things - complains about being tired, gets a stronger drink, keeps saying that he's not hungry and keeps telling her to sit down.
He says that he's got something to tell Mary.
" 'This is going to be a big shock to you, I'm afraid,' he said. 'But I've thought about it a good deal and I've decided that the only thing to do is to tell you immediately.' And he told her. It didn't take long, four or five minutes at most, and she sat still through it all, watching him with puzzled horror."
Here, we understand why Patrick was acting so unusually - because he is going to leave Mary. This is the incident that sets the story into motion. Now the story is about Mary reacting to this information and how "solves" the problem.
As he falls on the ground, the noise brings Mary out of shock and her mind becomes very clear.
She goes to the grocery buy something to get an alibi - so no one realizes there's something wrong.
"At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause, she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head. She might as well have hit him with a steel bar."
She pretends to be shocked when she comes back and sees her husband dead on the ground - because she still loved him, it isn't very hard.
Crying, she calls the police. Dective, doctors, investigators come.
They look all over the house for any clues and for the weapon.
After a long time of searching, they still can't find anything and Mary offers them a drink.
Officer Jack Noonan points out the lamb is still in the oven.
She asks them to eat it up and they eat the weapon - the leg of lamb.
- Mary kills her husband afer finding out he's going to leave her.
- she kills Patrick.
- she loves him before and after.
- Patrick leaves her wife.
- Mary hides her crime to protect her baby.
- Mary has to deal with the fact that her husband is going to leave her.
- Patrick is going to leave Mary, causing a conflict between the two.
" 'Personally, I think the weapon is somewhere near the house.'
'It's probably right under our noses. What do you think, Jack?'
And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to laugh. "
The reader (and Mary) knows that the detectives are eating the weapon - the leg of lamb.
So, when they say that the weapon is probably right under their noses, it's ironic, because it literally is under their noses.
It's an example of dramatic irony.
"(...)she was satisfied to sit quietly, enjoying his company after the long hours alone in the house. She loved the warmth that came out of him when they were alone together."
The leg of lamb
- it's the weapon of the story and symbolizes Patrick's death.
Larger and darker eyes -
simbolizes Mary's pregnancy and her new peacefulness at this phase.
Patrick tells Mary that he is going out.
She goes get something to cook for dinner - a leg of lamb.
She pretends nothing happened
Mary refuses to believe it - she is in shock.
Patrick remains standing for 4 or 5 seconds, and then falls.
'So there it is,' he added. 'And I know it's a tough time to be telling you this, but there simply wasn't any other way. Of course, I'll give you money and see that you're taken care of. But there really shouldn't be any problem. I hope not, in any case. It wouldn't be very good for my job.'”
Thank you for your attention!
1. If Mary had time to think about Patrick leaving her, do you think she would have killed him?
2. Do you think Mary would’ve confessed her crime if she weren’t pregnant?
3. The author doesn’t really tell us what Patrick said to Mary, so we conclude that he said that he’s leaving her. Do you think that maybe he said something else? If yes, what do you think it is?