Lamb to the Slaughter: How Drastic Change Leads to Drastic Measures

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Mykaila
Engish2Honors

Don’t Go Changing: An Analysis on Change in the Short Story “Lamb to the Slaughter”

When you are young, there is always one child in school who cheats in a game, or breaks the rules, and has to go to time-out because of it. Even full-gown adults break laws and consequently go to jail. Whenever the social or official rules in a society are broken, there are consequences. Rules are there for a reason; they provide a life of stability and structure. In Roald Dahl’s short story “Lamb to the Slaughter”, Patrick, with an expecting wife, broke the social code of the time era by telling his wife bad news that drastically altered her structured lifestyle. Feeling lost and scared, she immediately resorts to what she thinks is best, and kills her husband with a leg of lamb. Dahl indicates that drastic changes can lead to drastic outcomes; he conveys this through direct characterization, irony, and symbolism. Dahl directly describes Mary Maloney as the pregnant wife who undergoes most of the severe changes in the story. These changes all end up having pretty extreme outcomes. For example, when her husband randomly informs her of what we infer to be a break up in their relationship, that shatters her perfectly ordered life and she became a murderer. This is the main change in the story and it also has the most dramatic outcome. Confused, Mary could no longer rely on a perfect life for stability, and she went back to her primitive nature and killed the reason behind all of the confusion. Another drastic change is Mary’s personality after she actually murders her husband. Before she kills him, she waits on him hand and foot, and is a dependant person surrounding her life around him; almost “as a sunbather feels the sun” (318). After she kills Patrick, “she began thinking very fast” (320), and her character changes. She becomes an independent, analyzing, decision-making person. She no longer relies on others before making said decisions. These...
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