Teacher Notes: Lamb to the Slaughter
Video analysis (Modern Adaptation) on Yotube. Shown to class http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzGTUHBwI-E&feature=related Plot Outline Exposition: Characters are introduced: Patrick Maloney- a policeman who has not been promoted in spite of man years of service. Mary Maloney- a dutiful housewife, six months pregnant. Conflict(internal/interpersonal): Patrick has decided to tell Mary that he is leaving her. Mary is very upset by the news. Setting: Cinematic description of the Maloney household. Mood/Atmosphere established: The normal routine of the household is disrupted by the nervous actions of Patrick Maloney and Mary’s jumpy/nervous reaction to her husband’s cold uncaring attitude toward her all work together to establish a tense atmosphere. Rising Action: Suspense is created by the nervous actions of both characters. Mary’s determination to please her husband and Patrick’s cold reaction to her. The author also uses description to build suspense. Patrick’s gulping of the whiskey and the sounds of ice cubes clinking against the glass indicate that he is troubled about something. The reader becomes curious about what he plans to say to his wife. The short dialogue exchanges between the husband and wife increases tension and builds suspense. In addition to dialogue, the author’s physical descriptions add tension and increases suspense. Patrick’s “absolute motionless” head lowered, “the little muscle moving near the corner of his left eye.” The reader is still left in the dark about the specific information Patrick has just shared with his wife. “And he told her.” “It didn’t take long, four or five minutes at the most.” The reader must continue reading find out what Patrick told Mary until he tells her that he’ll give her money and see that she’s looked after. The wife is shocked and is in denial. She copes with her stress by doing housework—preparing supper. The author’s description of Mary’s reaction “everything was automatic now” and her preparation of supper, and Patrick’s cold angry reaction to her nervous actions triggers a sympathetic reaction toward Mary just as she is about to murder her husband. Climax The turning point in this story occurs when Mary hits her husband in the back of the head with a leg of lamb. The author’s cinematic description of the murder, Patrick’s gentle swaying before hitting the floor, the sounds of tables overturning, and Mary holding the murder weapon in both hands is very effective. We also begin to see another side of Mary’s personality. Her unemotional reaction to the murder. “All right…So I’ve killed him.” adds to the shock experienced by the reader. Mary immediately becomes very calculating as she weighs out her options (no longer the lamb). Falling Action Mary begins to plan her alibi acting in front of the mirror. Purchasing supplies at the local grocery store. Disposes of the evidence (the leg of lamb) by placing it in the oven. Mary calls the police, they check her alibi. They search for the murder weapon “get the weapon, and you’ve got the man.” Mary offers the police officers drinks and leg of lamb for supper. Resolution Mary, in an adjoining room, listens to the police officers discuss the murder. They feel the murder weapon must be on the premises, “probably right under our (their) noses.” Mary begins to giggle at their ironic statements. (dramatic irony—the speakers are unaware of the irony in their statements)
Paragraph Response 1. Identify the narrative point of view in this story. What helped you decide? Why would the author choose this POV? Explain
Third Person Limited Omniscient Allows the narrator to make commentary about the inner thoughts of one (1) of the characters and the events of the story. “For her this was a blissful time of day.”; “She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man…”; “Her instinct was not believe any of it…”; “She couldn’t feel her feet touching the floor…she couldn’t feel anything at all…Everything...
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