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

Expert Answers

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

Roald Dahl does not give an exact time and place for his short story "Lamb of Slaughter." In this short story, Mary Maloney takes a frozen lamb's leg and hits her husband with it over the head, which kills him. She goes to the grocery store for an alibi, then calls the police after returning home. As they are analyzing the crime scene, she invites them to stay for dinner, where she serves the murder weapon. Although most of the action does occur in the Maloney household, we are not sure where the Maloney's reside. Dahl likely left the setting unclear so the story is more universal for this audience to relate to, no matter where they are from. This short story was published in America in the 1950s, so the setting is likely around that time.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is no indication to the exact location (as in city or even country) that the story is set.  However, knowing that the author, Roald Dahl, is British, and with the word "Hullo" used instead of "Hello," the reader gets the feel that this story is set in a small town in England.  It is such a small town that Mary knows the grocer, Sam, by name, and can walk there from her house.  She also seems to know the detectives who come to investigate the death of her husband.  Setting also includes time, but there is also no indication as to the year when this story took place; there is a mention of a car, so it must be set in modern times at least.

One could also say that the setting is simply the Maloney house, since Patrick's death occurs there as does most of the action of the story.  The only time that the action occurs outside of the house is when Mary goes to the grocer to set up her alibi.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial