In "Lamb to the Slaughter," why is the lamb a symbol of revenge?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the story, the lamb begins as a symbol of plenty and shared domesticity. It is a frozen leg of lamb from the couple's freezer which Mary will prepare for their dinner together. After Patrick drops the bombshell about wanting a divorce, it becomes a symbol of their discord, her...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In the story, the lamb begins as a symbol of plenty and shared domesticity. It is a frozen leg of lamb from the couple's freezer which Mary will prepare for their dinner together. After Patrick drops the bombshell about wanting a divorce, it becomes a symbol of their discord, her distress, and ultimately of her revenge: she uses the heavy frozen lamb as the murder weapon.

In another sense, the lamb stands for the husband. Patrick is the victim, so he is figuratively a slaughtered lamb. And literally, a real lamb has been slaughtered at some previous time so it could become their meal. This lamb is also a "sacrificial lamb," giving its life to protect her as all evidence of a murder weapon has been consumed by the police.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The leg of lamb is a symbol of revenge in Dahl's short story, "Lamb to the Slaughter".

The weapon used to commit murder is the frozen leg of lamb which the police officers later consume.  The husband has obviously decided that he is not content with his marriage and feels it is time to move on.  The wife seeks revenge upon her husband as she is seemingly committed to him and their union.   

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team