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The house adds to the unexpected scenario fro the action to take place. A murder so gruesome would usually take place in a cold, creepy and dark place, not in a warm, homely, family environment.

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The atmosphere of the house changes from inviting and friendly to a tense and uneasy place after the murder has taken place. Maloney gets away with the murder in the end. This caused by a revolting ending in which he police detectives eat the leg of lamb that was used to kill Patrick.

The writer creates an unbelievable ending by making the story, up to the murder, set in a very normal family house. It is not somewhere you would associate with a morbid killing.

Lamb to the Slaughter Critical Evaluation

The writer builds up an impression that the marriage may not be as good as it could be, and both were under strain not to release the tension onto each other. This story is a tale of the unexpected and the main way it is achieved is by making the build up to the climax of the death seem so normal. I would not expect a happy married couple, in a warm, cozy house, to be the setting for such an evil, thrilling murder to take.

Once his writing reached its audience, Dahl never experienced any difficulty; before reaching his audience, at the editorial level, however, Dahl often confronted obstacles. Browse all BookRags Study Guides. Copyrights Lamb to the Slaughter from Gale. All rights reserved. Toggle navigation.

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Author Biography. Plot Summary. Her husband tells her to sit down, and when he returns she notices the drink is filled with significantly more whiskey. Mary comments on how her husband should not be on his feet all day given how senior of a policeman he is, and her husband does not respond. Mary's husband continues to sit in silence as she tells him she can make him dinner, even though they usually go out to eat on Thursdays.


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  • Critical Evaluation – Lamb to the Slaughter Essay.

He does not respond, so Mary insists that her husband must eat something until he tells her to sit down. When her husband sits her down, Mary sees him sitting motionlessly, shrouded by a shadow, as he tells her that he is going to leave her. Mary watches him with a "dazed horror" , and her husband tells Mary not to make a fuss about the divorce, as it would be bad for his job.

Lamb to the Slaughter Criticism

After hearing this, Mary walks down the stairs to the cellar and lifts the first object she grabs, a leg of lamb, from the freezer. She decides to make lamb for dinner as she holds the lamb by the thin bone-end. Since he is going out, her husband tells her not to bother making dinner. In response, Mary walks up behind him, swings the leg of lamb, and brings it down onto the back of his head.


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Her husband remains standing for four or five seconds, then falls to the carpet, dead. She snaps out of shock and thinks clearly about her next steps. Mary initially decides the penalty for killing her husband would be a relief. But, she worries about her unborn child, and whether they would kill both her and her child or wait until the child was born.

Mary carries the meat into the oven and begins to cook it. She then begins to tidy up her face and smile strangely at the mirror. After rehearsing in the mirror, Mary smiles and speaks more naturally, and she goes to the grocery store to buy some potatoes and peas. At the grocery store, Mary lies to the cashier that she and her husband decided to eat in. Returning from the grocery store with potatoes, peas and cheesecake, Mary decides to make supper as she usually would, and to make it as tasty as possible. Mary's plot is to tell the police her husband is murdered while she is buying vegetables, and she finds his body when she returns home.

Mary plans to keep her actions as natural as possible, and even calls to her husband as she walks through the door with the groceries. As she is acting out her plan, she truly feels the shock of his death, and she begins crying over his dead body. Mary then calls the police to report her husband's murder, and the police car arrives at her home.

Two policemen from the precinct walk into her home, and she knows both of them. She falls into one of the policemen's arms, weeping hysterically, and he gently puts her in a chair.