Lamb To The Slaughter: Marital Crime

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The Dahl Roald genre is more of a dark humor type of short story. Coming from a rough childhood, I strongly believe that it influences how he writes. The beginning of ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ starts off with the author describing the setting as well as stating the emptiness in the house. Emphasizing that marriage takes two people to work. “Two table lamps alight-hers and the one by the empty chair opposite. On the sideboard behind her, two tall glasses, soda water, whiskey. Fresh ice cubes in the Thermos bucket” (Dahl, Roald. Lamb To The Slaughter. 1, 1-3) . Their marriage was slowly but surely going downhill, although everything around her is meant for two, Mary is the only one there.

Mary’s roles of caregiver to her husband and obeying servant are shown through her loving gestures. Patrick doesn’t care for the fact of the imbalance in their relationship, which contributes in the way she makes their drinks. “Yes,’ he said. ‘I’m tired,’ And as he spoke, he did an unusual thing. He lifted his glass and drained it in one swallow although there was still half of it, at least half of it left.. She wasn’t really watching him, but she knew what he had done because she heard the ice cubes falling back against the bottom of the empty glass when he lowered his arm” (Dahl, Roald. Lamb To The Slaughter. 1,30-33). The husband’s breaking of their everyday routine and decision to drink more than usual raises a red flag that something is wrong. The husband gives Mary orders and ignores her efforts. Mary’s attempt to get her husband to eat something is another example of her wifely duties as his caregiver. “If you’re too tired to eat out,’ she went on, ‘it’s still not too late. There’s plenty of meat and stuff in the freezer, and you can have it right here and not even move out of the chair. Her eyes waited on him for an answer, a smile, a little nod, but he made no sign. Anyway, she went on, I’ll get you some cheese and crackers first.’

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‘I don’t want it,’ he said.(Dahl, Roald. Lamb To The Slaughter. 1,50-55).He rejects her offer of food, which shows that it is also a rejection of her role within their marriage. As he mentally prepares himself, he looks down avoiding eye contact, while on the other hand Mary’s focuses on only him.

Mary’s husband starts off by saying“it’s kind of a bad time” which he refers to the fact that he is planning on abandoning not only Mary but as well as their child. He promised to send her money and to avoid her reaction, he ignores the idea that his wife has feelings. Not being able to believe her husband’s rejection, Mary stands by her marriage by performing her usual duty of preparing dinner. Her husband again rejects both her meal and her for the second time. Mary then decides to take matters into her own hands and decides to kill her husband right then and there. A frozen leg of lamb and the narrator’s description of the body are examples of Dahl’s black humor. The narrator’s compares the lamb to a steel club, the policemen’s search for the murder weapon later in the story. After the murder, Mary finds her husbands death relieving in a way cause the life she had with her husband is over. However, her resolution to survive shows that her concern for her child is greater than her concern for herself and her marriage.

Overall, officer Noonan believes that the murderer is a man. He describes the weapon as a metal object, Mary is able to give enough information for her to throw off the police. The irony is that the murder weapon is “under their very noses”. 


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