"Lamb to the Slaughter"

|Tales of the Unexpected]].

‘‘Lamb to the Slaughter’’ demonstrates Dahl's ability to reflect aspects

Mary Maloney, a pregnant young woman, waits for her husband Patrick to return home from his job as a detective for the local police. When he returns, Mary notices that he is strangely aloof and assumes that he has had trouble at work. After blatantly ignoring her, Patrick finally confesses his intent to leave her and give her the money for living.

  • In shock at the news, and seemingly in a trance, Mary gets whatever she gets to her hand first
  • from the refrigerator to cook for their dinner. Then Mary gets told to stop the routine and not make him dinner, and she snaps, bludgeoning Patrick in the back of the head with the frozen lamb leg. After pacing the room, Mary realizes that she must conceal her crime. She prepares the leg of lamb and places it in the oven. Then, after practicing a cheerful routine, she heads out to the grocery shop to buy some vegetables for her roast. When she gets back, she enters the room where she killed her husband and calls the police.

When the police arrive, they question Mary and survey the scene.  The police then search the house and surrounding area for the murder weapon. After a fruitless search, the police realize that no one has turned off the oven. Mary offers all the policemen the cooked leg, asking them to accept her hospitality.


I liked the story very much. It reflects the changes and colours of human nature. It is quite unpredictable. Human feelings such as love, faith, affection and loyalty can be blown away with any fit of a cruel wind. They are not deep rooted in human nature and can be uprooted to enact any heinous crime. We lie to ourselves when we say that we love someone from the core of our heart. Heart is only a biological organ and has nothing to do with our feelings. It is a bitter truth that we love ourselves the most. Our feelings change with circumstances. We love others as long as we receive reciprocation from the other side. Otherwise everything is finished. As in the story Mary who loved a lot her husband and always thought and waited for him with anxiety, wasted no time to kill him cruelly. Even after committing the dreadful crime, she had no regrets and worked out a plan to set herself free from any charges.


Every coin has two sides. Same here with the story also though the plot of the story is strong. It sometimes loses the grip on the reader. The writer elaborates Mary Maloney’s love and anxiety for her husband, Patrick a lot. But when Patrick told Mary that he was going to leave her forever, the writer had failed to show the struggle of thoughts in Mary’s mind. Instead of giving any resistance or reaction, she went in the kitchen to prepare the supper. It is also not very clear whether Patrick also loved Mary as deeply as she did. Apart from this, the writer did not mention clearly why Patrick wanted to leave Mary even when she was pregnant.

Lamb To The Slaughter (Crime Fiction) Conventions: Edit

In the text Lamb To The Slaughter, the composer Roald Dahl challenges the conventions of crime fiction to make the text more enthralling. Dahl’s distinctive style of writing keeps the reader amused. Dahl has achieved this through creating a believable setting, altering the plot and by making the crime, a crime of passion.

Roald Dahl was born in Pen Island and the first parliament party he voted for was called For-China (say For-China quickly to make it sound like what it was really called). The first thing that Roald Dahl ever said was "dada!"