What aspects of the house make Billy feel it would be a good place to stay in "The Landlady"?
The house is cheerily decorated, particularly with yellow chrysanthemums.
Billy is looking for a cheap place to stay, and the “Bell and Dragon” is recommended to him. However, he catches sight of an attractive bed and breakfast as he is walking. The first thing he sees is a vase of yellow chrysanthemums, which he seems to find quite enchanting.
There is a bright streetlight, the sign for the bed and breakfast, and the flowers, so he peeks in.
Green curtains (some sort of velvety material) were hanging down on either side of the window. The chrysanthemums looked wonderful beside them. He went right up and peered through the glass into the room, and the first thing he saw was a bright fire burning in the hearth.
Inside the room, he sees what he thinks is pleasant-looking furniture, a dog, and a parrot. It looks cozy. One of the reasons he stops is the dog and parrot.
Animals were usually a good sign in a place like this, Billy told himself; and all in all, it looked to him as though it would be a pretty decent house to stay in. Certainly it would be more comfortable than The Bell and Dragon.
While it will not have beer and darts, it will be more homey. It will not have as many people to talk to. However, Billy is a little afraid of it. This is foreshadowing. Billy is afraid of “watery cabbage, rapacious landladies, and a powerful smell of kippers in the living room” and has no idea the craziness that is actually in this house.
Billy’s hesitation is short-lived. He is tired, in an unfamiliar place, and has to make a decision. He decides to just go in. It is a fateful decision. He has no idea that this is one of those boarding houses where you check in but you do not check out. The landlady here likes to kill her guests to make sure that they do not leave. The animals were also foreshadowing, which is ironic, since they helped him decide to stay there after all.
There is no way that Billy could know that, of course. Everything about the house is deceptively cheerful and normal until he gets in so far that he can’t get out. Dahl demonstrates the potential trajectory of a diseased mind, with the landlady perhaps once having been normal, and then being lonely until she finally began killing her guests.