How does Roald Dahl create tension in the story "The Landlady"?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this story, Roald Dahl's "The Landlady," tension is created by the use of suspense. We know from the very beginning that something is not quite right. Billy has every intention of going one place and ends up in a totally different place after experiencing some kind of hypnotic moment. We know that things just are not quite right at the Landlady's house, as well. Umbrellas in the stand but no guests in the house. A bed turned down and a room waiting for him when he had no plans to even be there. Cryptic remarks by the Landlady throughout Billy's time there. Recognizable names in the guest book--with no evidence of their having ever left. From beginning to end, something is just not right. It is this which creates the tension which builds to the rather shocking--though not all that surprising--climax.

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