In "Lamb to the Slaughter", why does Mary giggle at the end of the story?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This excellent short story is usually used by teachers to demonstrate irony. Of course, as you know, there are three types of irony - verbal, situational and dramatic. The answer to your question is related to dramatic irony, which is defined as  when the reader and some of the characters involved in a play or text know something important that some or all of the characters do not know. What is darkly comic about the ending is the dramatic irony that we as readers are privileged to know. Mary Maloney has just killed her husband, then has calculatedly managed to give herself an alibi and then get rid of the murder weapon. Of course, the policemen unwittingly help Mary get away with it:

"Personally, I think [the murder weapon] is right here on the premises."

"Probably right under our very noses. What you think, Jack?"

And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.

The murder weapon was indeed "right under their very noses", but they were just enjoying the meal. Given the emphasis that is placed on finding the murder weapon, ("It's the old story. Get the weapon and you've got the man"), the fact that Mary manages to trick the policemen into eating it, thereby ensuring herself her "innocence", ends this darkly humorous tale.

prakriti27's profile pic

prakriti27 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Mary Maloney giggles at the last of the story because she was happy that now no one can find out the murderer of Patrick as she was only the murderer and she was having a fear that if she would caught what will law do with her child who is not born yet. She feels safe for her baby too so she was happy and giggles.

devotosdeunamalareligion's profile pic

devotosdeunamalareligion | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

As regards Mary Maloney's giggle,We can say that she does that because the detectives declares that the evidence is in ,almost ,their hands
as the quote says:
"Probably right under our very noses. What you think, Jack?"

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