What atmosphere is being set in the first two paragraphs of "Lamb to the Slaughter"?
The atmosphere is one of warm, peaceful domesticity. Mary is waiting for her husband, and her preparations show that they have a regular routine established for his homecoming. Every evening they have whiskey highballs together when he comes home. The scene suggests that he must look forward to this almost ceremonial climax to his long day just as much as she does--or at least that is what she believes to be the case. The room is
"warm and clean."
The lighting is soft because there is no ceiling light but only
"two table lamps alight--hers and the one by the empty chair opposite."
It could be seen as warm and cosy, or at tiny and confining, almost claustrophobic--the kind of little house that a cop could afford, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a single-car garage, a little backyard, a home where two people would always be bumping into each other.
Mary is in for a rude awakening. She doesn't realize that her husband Patrick has gotten tired of his life with her. The fact that they have drifted far apart is exemplified by the brutal way in which he tells her he wants out of the marriage and by the way she reacts when she hits him over the head with a frozen leg of lamb.