Authors use black humor to help readers deal with a serious or gruesome issue in a lighter way. It allows us to consider subjects which are often taboo while feeling emotions that are somewhat less intense. Certainly the murder of a husband by his pregnant wife is a serious story,...
Authors use black humor to help readers deal with a serious or gruesome issue in a lighter way. It allows us to consider subjects which are often taboo while feeling emotions that are somewhat less intense. Certainly the murder of a husband by his pregnant wife is a serious story, yet in the end, it's hard not to chuckle along with Mary Maloney for getting away with murder.
The story is straightforward and serious as it opens. Mary awaits her husband's return home from work and serves his every need once he arrives. When he drops the bombshell on Mary that he's leaving her, the mood is tense. When she says that she will get dinner and he cuts her off curtly, things are even more tense.
And then Mary Maloney takes that frozen leg of lamb she had planned to serve him and instinctively smashes her husband's head with it. That's a great example of dark humor. Ultimately, murder is not funny, but the fact that the unprepared dinner he refused killed him is worth a chuckle. Who dies by lamb, of all things?
Her response is also worth another chuckle. Immediately after killing him, Mary thinks,
All right, she told herself. So I've killed him.
Her response is simply so straightforward, without any emotion or panic. This presumed cheating husband who was leaving her is now dead. Mary simply acknowledges it and begins planning her alibi, which is humorous particularly because it stands in such contrast to her earliest descriptions in the story of awaiting her husband's arrival.
The detectives later search Mary's house as they eat the leg of lamb that she has now prepared as part of her alibi. As they eat and converse, one of them notes that the murder weapon used to kill Patrick is "probably right under our noses." This is the line that makes Mary laugh in another room as the story closes, and it is another example of dark humor. Mary calls these men Patrick's friends, and they have no idea that they are consuming the murder weapon itself, destroying all evidence that could link her to the crime. On one hand, it's quite a gruesome image, yet it's hard not to find it a bit humorous as well, because Patrick was a rather despicable character.