A Literary Analysis of Lamb to the Slaughter

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The story revolves around Mary Maloney, a young woman eagerly awaiting her husband Patrick Maloney, who is a policeman, to return home from work. Mary exudes a joyful demeanor in everything she does. She is currently six months pregnant with their child. At five o’clock, she hears her husband’s arrival and eagerly goes to greet him with a kiss. This is the most delightful part of her day. Mary lovingly serves him his first drink and they both settle down. She deeply loves him and always strives to be an exceptional wife, doing everything possible for him. However, today Patrick Maloney seems to be in a gloomy mood. He has something important to share with her that he forewarns will be quite shocking. Despite this, he has made up his mind to reveal the truth. He candidly discloses everything to her, leaving Mary in a state of stunned horror as she watches him. The reader remains unaware of the specific topic of their conversation, but the overall atmosphere of the story undergoes a noticeable change.

Initially, Mary is in disbelief and hopes that what she is hearing is only a nightmare, but eventually accepts the truth. To divert her thoughts, she agrees to cook dinner for him. Mary retrieves a frozen leg of lamb from the freezer and swiftly strikes her husband on the back of his head, causing him to fall to the floor. Realizing she has just ended his life, she promptly places the leg of lamb in a pan and sets the oven temperature to high. Considering her next steps, Mary determines that in order to establish an believable alibi, she needs to buy vegetables and cheesecake from the grocery store. At the store, she tries to maintain a cheerful demeanor with the shopkeeper. Upon returning home, she pretends as if her husband is still alive; however, upon seeing his lifeless body on the floor, an overwhelming rush of love and longing for him compels her uncontrollable weeping. After a few moments pass by, Mary decides it’s time to contact law enforcement.

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Patrick Maloney’s death is a baffling mystery. A saddened Mary recounts the entire story to the authorities – from his return from work, her trip to the grocery store, and her shocking discovery of him lying dead on the floor. The police diligently investigate the object used to kill Patrick, but remain clueless about how it happened. They closely monitor Mary, who graciously offers them a drink and the leg of lamb. The officers consume whisky and devour all the food, unaware that they are eating what they seek. As Mary sits alone in the living room, she overhears their conversation and begins to giggle.

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A Literary Analysis of Lamb to the Slaughter. (2023, Apr 17). Retrieved from


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