illustrated tablesetting with a plate containing a large lamb-leg roast resting on a puddle of blood

Lamb to the Slaughter

by Roald Dahl

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Discussion Topic

Patrick Maloney's profession in "Lamb to the Slaughter."

Summary:

Patrick Maloney's profession in "Lamb to the Slaughter" is that of a police detective. This detail is significant as it adds irony to the story, given his wife's clever manipulation of the investigation into his own murder.

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What is Patrick Maloney's profession in "Lamb to the Slaughter"?

Patrick Maloney is a police officer.  More specifically Patrick Maloney is a detective in the police department.  

"As the wife of a detective, she knew what the punishment would be."

The story is not clear about whether or not Patrick is a good detective or not.  Regardless of his ability to do his job, Patrick was probably a well liked detective at the police station.  The detectives that are sent to Mary Maloney's house to investigate the murder all seem genuinely concerned and motivated to find the murder weapon and the murderer.  They also stay for dinner.  I feel that if they didn't like Patrick, they would have done their due diligence and left as quickly as possible.  

Other information about Patrick is discovered near the beginning of the story.  He's either blind to Mary's single minded devotion to him, or he's just a flat out jerk.  I think it's the latter.  She obviously adores him like no other.  She's also 6 months pregnant with his baby, yet he still announces in casual conversation that he's leaving her. 

"So there it is," he added. "And I know it's a tough time to be telling you this, but there simply wasn't any other way. Of course, I'll give you money and see that you're taken care of. But there really shouldn't be any problem."

No problem? I guess he didn't anticipate his wife's skill with frozen meat.  

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In "Lamb to the Slaughter," what is Patrick Maloney's profession?

Patrick Maloney is a police officer. The answer to this question can be found fairly early on in the story. Mary Maloney is waiting patiently for Patrick to get home from work, and she swoops into action with taking his coat and fixing him a drink. Then the two of them sit down together, and Mary Maloney luxuriates in Patrick's very presence. Patrick seems to be oddly quiet, and Mary thinks that it is because Patrick is tired. She prods him for some answers about his day and why he might be tired, and she continues to ask if there is anything that she can do for him. Her attempts are answered negatively each time, and then Mary tries to empathize with him about his difficult work situation. She feels that it is unfair for him to have to be on his feet so much despite his seniority at the station.

“I think it’s a shame,” she said, “that when a policeman gets to be as senior as you, they keep him walking about on his feet all day long.”

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In "Lamb to the Slaughter," what is Patrick Maloney's profession?

It is well worth reading this excellent short story in full to get the answer to your question. You won't regret it, as it is a darkly humorous tale which is cleverly constructed by Dahl. However the answer you are looking for comes when Patrick Maloney returns from work and is very tired. His loving, concerned wife says:

"I think it's a shame," she said, "that when a policeman gets to be as senior as you, they keep him walking about on his feet all day long."

Thus we are told that Patrick Maloney is a high-ranking policeman. This perhaps explains the way that Mary is able to coolly and calculatedly arrange an alibi for herself and plan the disappearance of the murder weapon, ensuring that she gets away with the crime. We can assume that she would have heard a lot from her husband about his work, and this knowledge she puts into practice with devastatingly successful results.

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