Lamb To The Slaughter By Dahl

Characterization, a method that an author chooses to develop his/her character,
is a very important element in a story. In "Lamb to the Slaughter," Roald

Dahl, effectively develops the protagonist both directly and indirectly;
however, the use of indirect characterization is more dominant because it
reveals her actions and how she deals with her conflict, her words, and creating
a dynamic character with her words, and her personality. First, she seems like a
typical house-wife longing for her husband to return, but something is odd about
this particular day; "There was a slow smiling air about her, and about
everything she did...was curiously tranquil...the eyes, with their new placid
look, seemed larger, and darker than before" (108). It was almost as if she is
expecting something unusual to happen, and that she is preparing for that
specific moment. In addition, her actions change from being a
wife-pleasing-husband, to a self-conscious woman that knew all of a sudden,
exactly what to do, as if she had been prepared for months. Also, in the
beginning of the story she is described as a inoffensive, harmless person, but
immediately after her husband reveals his burden, she becomes unstable and
almost naturally she hits her husband. She "...simply walked up behind him and
without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb...and brought it down as
hard as she could..." (111). And as strange as it looks, she goes somewhat
through a metamorphoses, from being a content house-wife, to a maniac, possessed
woman, to the point of killing her husband. Second, she reveals through her
words, her duplicity and deceitfulness by exterminating all the evidence left.

When the police arrived she trying to hide evidence, asks for her husband’s
whiskey, "‘Jack...would you mind giving me a drink?’...’You mean this
whiskey?’...’Yes, please’...’Why don’t you eat up that lamb that is in
the oven?’..." (115,116), and the reader realizes that she tries to convince
others with her deceitful lies, and with a concrete set of credible words, she
gets away easily; "She tried a smile. It came out so peculiar...The voice
sounded so peculiar too...She rehearsed it several times more..." (112). Mrs.

Maloney, had thought about it even before the incident happened, for she tries
to look as normal as possible, by acting it out her daily routine. Finally, her
personality creates in her a dynamic characterization, and as the reader
observes it when she is talking to the shopkeeper, by saying something very odd:

"’I got a nice leg of lamb from the freezer...I don’t much like cooking it
frozen...but I’m taking a chance on it this time. You think it’ll be
alltight?" (112). What she was really referring, was what she had done just
minutes ago. But when she said , at the end, to him if "it’ll be allright?"
she revealed a weak, fragile nature as if she had been pulled out of a
protective coat all of a sudden and left naked, for she is described by the
narrator as a loving and faithful wife, who is willing to do anything for her
husband. Moreover, at the end when she offers the leg of lamb to the officers,
she does another extraordinary act; "And in the other room, Mary Maloney began
to giggle" (116). And by doing so, she was declaring that she was indeed
independent, and was mature enough to make her own decisions based on what she
thought was the best, not others. Roald Dahl, developed the protagonist
successfully in "Lamb to the Slaughter," through a way that is important in
this short story. Where indirect characterization is the most predominant in the
protagonist’s actions, words, and how the author creates a convincing dynamic
character, which reflects it in the body itself.