Lamb to the Slaughter Questions and Answers
by Roald Dahl

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What is the setting of "Lamb to the Slaughter"?

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Veda Townsend, M.S. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In a literal, physical sense, the bulk of the action in "Lamb to the Slaughter" takes place in the Maloney house. When we first meet Mary Maloney, she's waiting at home for her husband to return from work. When he does, he gives her difficult news, and she goes out to the grocer. This errand is small, but important: Mary Maloney is establishing an alibi by leaving the premises, and her interaction with Sam the grocer is crucial to her story's believability.

There is no exact location or time frame given, but we can infer from the story's publication date—1953—and the presence of an in-home...

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kimyman | Student

 would suggest the setting is not England but Ireland - the names used Maloney, Noonan, Patrick all being Irish names but more importantly and very subtly "whiskey" is an Irish drink - the English drink "whisky" from Scotland.

An alternative which is probably as attractive is it being set in an Irish community in America.

The dating points towards the American setting being just as likely as Ireland if not more so.

The Maloneys had a home freezer - they were not introduced to the USA until 1940 and were much later becoming widespread in England or Ireland. They were not a rich family so clearly the use of home freezers had become quite widespread by the time the story was set. It was written in 1954 so probably set around then.

On balance I would plump for early 1950s in an Irish community in America.

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