What does the beginning of the story suggest about Mary Maloney's relationship with her husband?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mary waits calmly but with great anticipation for her husband to come home. She counts the minutes on the clock because she is looking forward to his arrival. In this time before he gets home, she is peaceful and calm, evidently satisfied and quite happy with her life at this point. She pays attention to every detail of his arrival: the car tires on the stones, the closing car door, the footsteps to the house, and the key turning in the lock. He walks in and she takes his coat, gives him his drink. She is devoted, serving him as if he is her boss. She is completely dedicated to him and is fine sitting in silence, as long as he is there: 

For her, this was always a wonderful time of day. She knew he didn't want to speak much until the first drink was finished, and she was satisfied to sit quietly, enjoying his company after the long hours alone in the house. She loved the warmth that came out of him when they were alone together. She loved the shape of his mouth, and she especially liked the way he didn't complain about being tired. 

When he gets up to get another drink, she tries to get it for him. She continually tries to serve and please him even though he continually refuses. With this information, we see that Mary is completely dependent upon and devoted to her husband. She waits on him like a servant and follows his every move, trying to think of better ways to make him more comfortable. Although she loves the "warmth" that comes from him when they are alone, it seems that all of the warmth is coming from her. 

Read the study guide:
Lamb to the Slaughter

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