What is the climax of the story “The Landlady”?

Expert Answers

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

The climax of Roald Dahl's story “The Landlady” occurs at the very end of tale when we, perhaps along with protagonist Billy Weaver, figure out that poor Billy is in mortal danger. The story breaks off before it resolves, and we are left to wonder what will...

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

The climax of Roald Dahl's story “The Landlady” occurs at the very end of tale when we, perhaps along with protagonist Billy Weaver, figure out that poor Billy is in mortal danger. The story breaks off before it resolves, and we are left to wonder what will happen next, although we have some strong suspicions.

The tension builds as Billy sees a cozy-looking house labeled “Bed and Breakfast” that mysteriously draws him in. He means to stay at the local inn, but he finds himself knocking on the boarding house door instead. The landlady opens it immediately and draws Billy inside. He can't quite help himself as he agrees to her extremely reasonable price, follows her up to his room, and says he will come down to sign the book after he unpacks.

The tension continues to build as Billy arrives in the living room. He goes to the book and sees two other names in it, Christopher Mulholland and Gregory Temple. Billy recognizes those names, but he cannot quite place where he has heard them. The landlady goes on and on about what charming young men they were, but Billy notices that their entries are two and three years old. Things are getting quite strange now, for the landlady says that both young men are still in the house. They are on the third floor, yet she speaks of them in the past tense.

Billy then notices that the landlady's parrot and little dog are both stuffed. The landlady declares that she stuffs all her “little pets [herself] when they pass away.” Billy's tea strangely tastes like “bitter almonds,” indicating the possible presence of poison, and we reach the climax of the story as we realize that Billy will soon be the next one to be stuffed—just like Christopher Mulholland and Gregory Temple, who are still on the third floor.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on