Is the climax of "Lamb to the Slaughter" when Mary hit her husband or when the police officers ate the evidence?The climax is where the tension in the story is highest and the character makes a...
Is the climax of "Lamb to the Slaughter" when Mary hit her husband or when the police officers ate the evidence?
The climax is where the tension in the story is highest and the character makes a choice between two choices. The part where Mary hit her husband shows the tension in the story at its peak. But at the same time there is a twist in the story when the police officers ate the evidence.
Let us just remind ourselves that the climax of a story is the point in the tale when the tension is highest. This may involve a character having to choose between two decisions, but not always. I would argue therefore that the climax of this story is actually when Mary Maloney manages to get the policemen to eat the murder weapon whilst they are looking for it. This is of course the moment of greatest emotional intensity, because we know how much Mary Maloney has to lose if she is found out. The way in which she is described as a perfect wife clearly makes us feel sympathetic for her, especially when she automatically, without thought, kills her husband who is about to leave her, pregnant as she is. We side with Mary and hope she is able to succeed in committing the perfect crime, and the moment when she asks the police officers to eat the lamb is crucial, as they are looking for the murder weapon and might put two and two together to work out that the leg of lamb could have been used. This is of course why Mary Maloney "giggles" at the end of the story, because she knows that this climactic moment has passed, and she has succeeded in bringing about the disappearance of the murder weapon.