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Lamb to the Slaughter Essay

Rohal Dahl’s short story, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, set in the early 20th century, isn’t your typical crime-fiction story, a murder is brewing. As the detectives strive for answers, eating away their only clue, Dahl communicates to the reader that the contrast is unexpected. A housewife, Mary Maloney, is expecting her husband home after a long day at work; unaware to the news he carries with him. Dahl never reveals the news to the readers, but gives them clues by Mary’s reactions. As the author continues the story, the readers sense a mood between Mr. and Mrs. Maloney. This serves the purpose of foreshadowing by hinting at a future problem or disagreement. Dahl uses several writing techniques such as language style, characterization, point of view, plot structure and setting to make the story more exciting and enjoyable.

Lamb to the Slaughter, is written in their person to take most of the character’s personal feelings out of the story. Writing in third person is a stronger, more forceful type of writing because the main points and events stand out them selves without feelings getting in the way. One of the reasons authors write in third person is to dis-include themselves from the story. By using words like they, she and he, Dahl has excluded both himself and the reader from the story, creating a stronger, more enjoyable story.

The first character introduced in the novel is Mary Maloney. Because it is only a short story, Dahl has left most of the physical features of the character out and focused more in the idiosyncrasies and actions of each character. Along the way Mary’s features are described but not in dept. Another way characters are revealed is by the way others react to them and how much emotion each character puts in their speech. Dahl has made sure that the readers feel intrigued by Mrs. Maloney’s character and how she changes from such an innocent woman to an emotionless murderer.


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