How can a leg of lamb go from being dinner to a murder weapon? In the story, Lamb to Slaughter by Ronald Dahl, when Patrick Maloney comes home to his wife Mary Maloney and tells her that he’s divorcing her, Mary has somewhat of a mental breakdown and kills her husband by hitting him on the head with a leg of lamb.
Also her being pregnant really affected her feeling towards the divorce because she had no ide that he wanted to leave her for so long. There was no warning, but the thought or him and her divorced made her very angry and calmly she reacted to his confession. This story shows that you never really know someone until you understand how everything that occurs can affect them and change them to become someone you’ve never seen before.
The author related the title to the story by connecting a harmless leg of lamb to what the wife uses it for. You can also think of it as ironic that lamb and slaughter are even in the same sentence because lambs are harmless and thought of as sweet and innocent. “For her it was always a wonderful day. She loved the warmth that came out of him when they were alone together. She loved the shape of his mouth, and she especially liked the way he didn’t complain about being tired.”
This is a quote and supports the story because in the beginning the wife seemed so innocent and sweet and just was happy that Mr. Maloney was home and abruptly turned into a murderer. “At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked behind him, 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.” The protagonist in this story is Mrs. Maloney and as soon as he tells her news that he is divorcing her is when we see the change in her and she turns from being a lamb to the slaughterer. He obviously didn’t know her as well as he thought he did because he had no idea that what he said would do that to her.
The main conflict is that Mr. Maloney wants to divorce his wife and she is shocked because she thought everything was fine between them and they have an unborn child and in that shock she killed him and has to cover up her tracks. In the story Ronald Dahl introduces this new feeling of criminal acts and how to hide what she’s done by explaining her thoughts after she’s killed him. “She began thinking very fast. As the wife of a detective, she knew what the punishment would be. It made no difference to her.
In fact, it would be a relief. On the other hand, what about the baby? What were the laws about murderers with unborn children? Mary Maloney did not know and she was not prepared to take a chance.” The climax in the story occurs when the police come over to survey the damage and search her house for the weapon that the murderer used to kill Patrick Maloney. Then Mary Maloney offers them lamb because they were tired and hungry and while they were eating the lamb one of them said, “It must be under our noses.”
This is the climax because they were talking about how close the murderer weapon could be and that it could be right under their noses while they were actually eating the murder weapon and it was literally under their noses. This also relates to how well you can know someone because Mr. Maloney had no idea how cunning and smart Mary Maloney was and how his job and everything that she knew about being a detective actually helped her hide his death.
This story is told in third person and uses words like “he” “she” “they.” An example from the story is “A few minutes later she got up and went to the phone. She knew the number of the police station.” Some literary techniques the author uses are symbolism, dramatic irony, verbal irony, and situational irony. Symbolism is shown in the leg of lamb because it is symbolizes the change of being sweet and nice, to a murderer or in the lambs cases a murder weapon.
Dramatic irony is shown because the audience knows that the leg of lamb is the murder weapon and Mrs. Maloney feeds it to the cops just to get rid of it’s evidence, but the cops don’t know that. “Personally, I think the weapon is somewhere near the house. It’s probably under our noses. And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to laugh.” Verbal irony is shown when the grocer asks Mrs. Maloney if she would like meat and she replies, “No I’ve got meat, thanks, and I’ve got a nice leg of lamb, from the freezer.” That is verbal irony because although it is intended to mean she doesn’t need meat because she has it already, it actually suggests of the leg of lamb that she used to kill her husband.
Situational irony occurs when the cops intended to search her house for the murder weapon and ended up eating it instead. This all relates to the main idea of how well you can know someone because since she’s known the cops for a while through her husbands work, they think she’s innocent and would do anything for Patrick when she secretly has a evil side of her they never saw.
In conclusion, a different take on the situation could have been how you deliver bad information to someone. Mr. Maloney informed his wife he wanted a divorce in a non-caring, disrespectful manner and had he told her in a gentler, a caring, and a careful way, he would still be alive. They would just be two people living together, getting a divorce in a civil way. This is a clear example of a normal person flipping out when bad news is said the way it was. This woman was a nice, good woman and didn’t mean any harm to him, but was just disturbed by the information she received.