In Lamb to the Slaughter, why does the author omit Patrick Maloney's actual announcement?

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From all textual evidence, Mary Maloney has been a devoted wife until the night of this exchange. She anxiously awaits her husband's return home from work. She takes his coat and puts it away for him. She makes his favorite drink and knows that he wishes to drink it in silence, so she patiently awaits his coming home so that she can spend time with him. And she adores him—the way he sits in his chair, the look in his eyes, and even his need for quiet:

She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man, and to feel—almost as a sunbather feels the sun—that warm male glow that came out of him to her when they were alone together.

Even more, Mary is six months pregnant with their child.

And on this particular night, Patrick has decided that he is going to leave his devoted and very pregnant wife. Dahl writes:

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.

The reason that the dialogue Patrick uses isn't included is because it is completely insignificant. Patrick prefaces his statements by telling his wife that this news will be shocking to her, meaning that she could not have possibly seen this coming. She holds no fault in the ending of the marriage. He has simply made other choices for his future—and she is not part of that future.

So whether Patrick is simply tired of his wife or is having an affair or wants to live as a recluse simply isn't significant. What is significant is that his devoted wife has done everything she could have done in order to be loved by her husband, and he decides to leave her without any hope of reconciliation and without any cause.

Mary could easily become a victim here, but in the end she finds the strength to end her marriage on her own terms, and the story ends with her giggling about her successful revenge.

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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 be 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." 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 from 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 tired of their claustrophobic existence. It is obvious from his cold tone that he feels no affection for Mary 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.

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