Lamb to the Slaughter Questions and Answers
by Roald Dahl

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Infer the feelings of the characters based on what the author has written about them, and defend your inferences.

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Let's start with Mary. When the story begins, Mary is "waiting for her husband to come home from work." She would consistently look at the clock to "please herself with the thought that each minute gone by made it nearer the time when he would come." From these opening quotes the reader can infer how deeply she feels for her husband. She wants nothing more than to spend time with him calling it a "blissful" time when he returns home.

When her husband, Patrick, gets home, she attends to his every need. She takes his coat and makes him a drink knowing he wouldn't want to speak to her "until the first drink was finished." Mary "was content to sit quietly" because "she loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man." All of these quotes imply Mary is a doting housewife who wants nothing more than to please her husband. They also suggest she really doesn't have a life or identity of her own.

Now, to Patrick. Any time Mary asks if he wants or needs something, his replies are short and tells her to sit down. Most comments she makes he actually ignores. It seems this lack of dialogue and his behaviors suggest he is annoyed with Mary, but when the reader continues on, we learn it's because he is going to leave her. He breaks her heart and says, "I hope
you won’t blame me too much.” It seems he doesn't care for her feelings; he just wants to be out of this situation. This is reinforced when he says, "I know it’s kind of a bad time to be telling you, but there simply wasn’t any other way." He is referring to her pregnancy.

From the start of the story, we find a loving housewife that simply wants a connection with her mate and to please him thoroughly. Unfortunately, her husband does not reflect back these feelings and states matter of factly that he's leaving her. There is more to the story, but Patrick is not a part of it because she kills him. And ironically, it seems her actions and feelings after the murder reflect his—nonchalant, lack of emotion, and almost indifferent as she cooks and feeds the murder weapon to the police officers.

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