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

Lamb to the Slaughter

by Roald Dahl

Start Free Trial

Where is alliteration found in the story "Lamb to the Slaughter"?

Expert Answers

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

Alliteration is created when words beginning with the same consonant sound appear in close proximity within a sentence or line of poetry. Alliteration can be obvious, such as the well-known tongue twister, "But a better butter makes the batter better." But, alliteration can also be more subtle in that the words with the same beginning consonant sounds can be separated by other words. The Literary Devices dictionary gives us the following example of more subtle alliteration:

His soul swooned slowly as he hear the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. ("Alliteration")

Here, alliteration is first created through the repetition of the s consonant, and, while "soul," "swooned," and "slowly" are all right next to each other, the next word "snow" is separated by four words. The same can be seen of the creation of alliteration through the f consonant.

In the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter," author Road Dahl employs subtle alliteration to enhance the protagonist's emotions.

We first see subtle alliteration employed in the very first sentence: "The room was warm, the curtains were closed, the two table lamps were lit." Here, the repetition of the w consonant creates alliteration, as seen in the words "was," "warm", "were," and the second "were." Alliteration is also created through the repetition of the c consonant in the phrase "curtains were closed" and again in the repetition of the l consonant in the phrase "lamps were lit." All together, the imagery paints the safe, serene atmosphere and shows how calm she feels moments before her dramatic letdown. Other alliteration can be found in the passages in which she is waiting for him to come home and when she first reacts to her bad news.

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

Where is there alliteration in the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter"?

Finding the alliteration in Dahl's short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" is a bit tough. The story has it, but it is not obvious alliteration. Alliteration is a repetition of a consonant sound. It's usually seen in poetry, and more often than not, the alliteration occurs within a single line of poetry with no other words in between the alliterative words. For example: "Bob was a big, bad, batter."  

In "Lamb to the Slaughter," the alliteration of the opening lines of text is much more subtle than my example.   

The room was warm, the curtains were closed, the two table lamps were lit.

There is a repetition of the "w" sound with the words "was," "warm," and the two "were" words. The "c" sound is also alliterative and in fairly close proximity as seen in "curtains were closed." Lastly is the "l" sound which can be found in the words "lamps" and "lit."  

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on