Man from the South

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How does Dahl Present conflict between appearance and reality in three of the five stories you have read?

Roald Dahl, born 13/9/1916, is best known as a children’s author for writing books such as The Twits, Matilda, The BFG, Charlie and the chocolate factory and many more. In 1943, he published his first children's book "The Gremlins" with Walt Disney and in 1945 his first book of short stories appeared in the US. Not only is he well known for writing children’s stories but he also has produced a popular collection for adults called tales of the unexpected. His books are mostly fantasy, and full of imagination. They are always a little cruel, but never without humour - a thrilling mixture of the grotesque and comic. A frequent motif is, that people are not, what they appear to be.

The three stories that I have chosen to be analysed are: The land lady, Lamb to the Slaughter, and man from the south. I believe that each of these stories where set in the 1950’s because of the language used by the characters in the stories. Also the settings of the stories give evidence of their era’s.

Roald Dahl has published several novels and nearly 50 short stories all of which, without exemption, are fascinating, intriguing and bizarre. One of Dahl’s more famous stories is “Lamb to the Slaughter”. This clever story is crafted down to the smallest detail - every word and expression implies something, often has a meaning and so manipulates the reader’s opinion. What makes this story even more interesting, is that it is written from the murderer’s point of view, while the opinion of the author is still evident.

Lamb to the slaughter is set in the stereotypical home of the 1950s, with the ‘warm and clean’ setting and ‘curtains drawn’. He describes the main character, Mary Maloney as the perfect housewife as he describes how she ’was waiting’ for her husband, ’fresh ice cubes’ that shows how good she is at housekeeping. It is shown how Mary is happy for her husband Patrick to return home from work as Dahl explains how she heard the tyres on the gravel, the footsteps etc.. As soon as Patrick walks through the door Mary is full of concern for her husband ’tired darling’, then greeting him with a tall glass of alcohol. Dahl describes how she loves to luxuriate in her husbands presence of this man, ‘almost as a sunbather feels the sun’. As we start to question whether this devoted woman is being given back any love in return from her husband, Dahl soon starts to describe how he uses direct talk, commanding her to ‘sit down’.

We soon start to realise that Patrick Maloney is acting ‘unusual’, as he makes ‘no sign’ towards his wife. He soon starts to explain how he is leaving her for another women and how he will give her money for the baby etc.. but as she is in ‘dazed horror’ her first instinct is to ignore what her husband just said and she fussed over Patrick, asking him if he would like any dinner and ignoring him as he says he is not hungry. It is asif Mary’s Character has been removed and someone else has taken over her, as she walks down to the freezer and picks up the hard, frozen solid leg of lamb and places it in her hands and slowly walks back towards her husband as he is stood, facing the window she hits him over the head and just froze, he dropped to the ground. After soon realising her husband is dead, she gets her thoughts together and ’rehearses’ what she will say to the shop keeper Sam, as she practices her smile and speech in the mirror she gathers her self together and goes on down to the shop to get her alibi. She soon returns back, calling the police and screaming in terror as they come to her house putting on the perfect character for the police to believe that she is a distraught widow.

The character that Dahl has lead us to believe to be a kind and caring wife, has slowly disappeared and a evil, crazy woman seems to have taken her place. As she offers the police the lamb she has cooked, they don’t...
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