Many readers have asked questions about what Patrick Maloney told his wife during the "four or five minutes" it took to explain that he wanted a divorce.
"This is going to be a bit of a shock to you, I'm afraid," he said. "But I've thought about it a good deal and I've decided the only thing to do is tell you right away. I hope you won't blame me too much." And he told her. It didn't take long, four or five minutes at most, and she sat very still through it all, watching him with a kind of dazed horror as he went further and further away from her with each word."So there it is," he added. "And I know it's kind of a bad time to be telling you, but there simply wasn't any other way. Of course I'll give you money and see you're looked after. But there needn't really be any fuss. I hope not anyway. It wouldn't be very good for my job."
Roald Dahl probably decided not to quote Patrick directly in so many words. One reason the author may have decided against doing so must have been that he didn't want any back-and-forth dialogue between Patrick and Mary. Dahl wanted to establish that by the end of Patrick's four- or five-minute speech there was no possibility whatsoever that the situation could mended. Mary was fully convinced that the marriage was over. There was nothing she could say that would make her husband change his mind. If he had given her some of his reasons for wanting a divorce, she could have argued with him. She could have promised to change. One of his reasons must have been that he felt she was too clinging, too dependent, too attentive, too suffocating with all her mothering. If he had said so, she might have said, "I understand. I'm sorry. I'll stop doing it. I'll do anything if you'll only stay." But by handling that part of the story the way he did, the author leaves both Mary and the reader with the impression that every door is shut and bolted. There is no hope for saving this marriage, and Mary knows it. Patrick will soon be gone out of her life forever. That is why she kills him. His cold, utterly unforeseen rejection of both herself and their unborn child makes her snap.
Dahl must have felt it was unnecessary to quote exactly what Patrick told her. It was pretty obvious that Patrick was sick and tired of their claustrophobic existence. And it is obvious from his cold tone that he feels no love for her anymore. He talks to her almost as if she were a stranger. The marriage is over, and there is no way to put it back together.