When the clock said ten minutes to five she began to listen, and a few moments later, punctually as always, she heard the tyres on the gravel outside, and the car door slamming, the footsteps passing the window, the key turning in the lock. She laid aside her sewing, stood up, and went forward to kiss him as he came in. The reader anticipates that Mary and Patrick get on very well and that Mary has a very caring nature as she is waiting anxiously and immediately shows her love by kissing him as he comes in.
Dahl also shows Mary’s love for Patrick to a greater detail as she loves to be near him and she appears to idolise him. She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man, And to feel-almost as a sunbather feels the sun- That warm male glow that came out of him to her When they were together. Mary also seems to admire his character and is deeply in love with him as she is attentive to Patrick’s every need and this makes the reader fell that Patrick is very lucky to have such a devoted wife.
Mrs Maloney doesn’t seem to work and spends “long hours alone in the house” looking after it, and her husband, which was a woman’s duty during the 1950’s. This was typical as women were seen as second from men, this is also seen but to a greater extent in The Speckled Band which was written in the Victorian times when women hardly had any independence. This is seen through Helen as she left home at six in the morning obviously without the permission of her stepfather and she suggests that she is frightened of him as she talks about his vicious character.
Helen also says that she would not like Holmes to go to the house in his presence suggesting her fear of him finding out she has been to see Holmes. “No, I must go. My heart is lightened already since I have confided my trouble to you. ” He is seen as a perfect villain being a man and a police officer. The third person narration is kept however Dahl looks at the scene through Mary’s eyes giving her point of view. But each time he lifted the drink to his lips, she heard the ice cubes clinking against the side of the glass.
Even Patrick is seen through Mary’s eyes, which enables the reader to understand exactly how she felt and thought at the time, “She noticed there was a little muscle moving near the corner of his left eye. ” Mary keeps asking Patrick if he wants anything and asks to get him another drink but he appears to be frustrated and gets angry. The reader is unsure whether he is always like this or if it just today. Mary does not ask what the problem is which suggests that he might always be like this, making the reader sympathise more for Mary.
He appears distracted in his approach to her and this is also seen through his language, which is very short and snappy, “I don’t want it” he said. Dahl retains what Patrick tells Mary but it is obvious that he is leaving her, which makes the reader very angry towards Patrick especially because she is pregnant. Mary appears to ignore him although she has heard exactly what he has said. She goes to collect some food from the basement and picks up the first thing that comes to her hand, which happens to be a leg of lamb.
Out of the spur of the moment, she swings the frozen leg of lamb around Patrick’s head and kills him. Dahl, wrote lamb to the Slaughter for a more modern reader who wanted the murder mystery genre to have a little variety. This is exactly what Dahl did to attract his readers into the story, which was not really expected. The typical aspects of having a male villain and a female victim were switched around, to enhance the interest of the reader and to experiment with the typical style of the murder mystery genre.
The time in which the story was written reflects the possible reasons for Dahl’s choices as compared to The Speckled Band the setting is not what you would expect for a murder mystery, as it is not set in a mysterious mansion with suspicious characters. Women were beginning to have a bigger say in society and the reader was shown the story from a different perspective however still demonstrating a woman without very much independence from her husband and with a traditional housewife role of looking after the home which was common in the 1950’s.
Sherlock Holmes lives with Dr Watson in Baker Street, London, the heart of the city. This implies his upper class lifestyle. Holmes investigates the murder of Julia Stoner by thoroughly asking Helen a range of questions and asking her to “pray be precise as to details”. The story is told through the eyes of Dr Watson, and he talks about Sherlock Holmes and his professional methods. I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in his Professional investigations, and in admiring the rapid deductions As swift as intuitions, and yet always founded on a logical basis,
With which he unravelled the problems, which were submitted to him. Dr Watson suggests that Holmes is an experienced detective who is very professional in his manner. The writer shows the reader Holmes’ skills by the way he works out the transport used by Helen as well as the fact that she sat in the left hand side of the dog-cart through the clues that are present in her appearance. Holmes made deductions from what he could observe on Helens jacket, which show that not only is he listening to her but also studying her appearance to find out additional information.
Helen is startled by Holmes’ precision. This enables the reader to understand that Holmes is a professional detective in their first impression. He fits the stereotype being a man who has a certain element of excellence in him. The second that Helen leaves Holmes begins thinking of the possible reasons for Julia’s unexpected death and the mysterious whistling sound that both Julia and Helen had heard in the middle of the night. Holmes asks for Dr Watson’s opinion on the case “And what do you think of it all, Watson?
” He appears to mull over the possible solutions to the mystery even before going to visit the Stoke Moran house which shows that he is preparing himself for the ‘afternoon’. Holmes is very calm when Dr Roylott goes to meet him and does not reveal anything Helen had told him. Holmes understands Dr Roylott’s violent character and from what Helen has told him he sets off to make some investigations into his financial position. It is evident therefore, that if both girls had married, this beauty would have had a mere pittance, while even one of them would cripple him to a serious extent
Holmes understands the case to a greater depth now and he sets off for Stoke Moran with a brief picture in his mind already from his preliminary work. The reader sees an element of danger and suspense, as well as tension is built when Holmes asks Watson to take a revolver with him, he is clearly worried. ” I should be obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket”. He also prepares himself if they may need to stay the night there by taking a toothbrush with him. This shows the reader his ability to think ahead and predict the outcome of his travel.
He says it’s “too serious for dawdling” making the reader understand how important and dangerous the case is. Holmes later studies the Stoke Moran house in which Helen lives and is very observant and says very little but does a lot of listening and thinking. He takes everything as a possibility and it is this that assures the audience of security and a belief that he will get to the bottom of the murder. The language he uses is definite and to the point, “one moment” said Holmes, “Could you swear to it”? Anything that he is unsure about he immediately asks to be told again and in depth.
Dr Watson also says that “he investigated the case with great care” allowing the reader to understand each action. A bell-rope hanging beside the bed interests Holmes and the windows and walls are carefully examined. Helen also says that she can smell the smoke from Dr Roylott’s room, which strikes Holmes, as he knows that there must be some sort of passage connecting the rooms. His deductions lead him to find out that it must be the ventilator. Holmes has understood something, and he makes a plan for that night.
Jack Noonan on the other hand has less incentive and is rather casual in his approach as he arrives, “The murderer may have taken it with him, but on the other hand he may’ve thrown it away”, suggesting he is unsure and not taking into consideration other possibilities of a weapon. He reacts immediately to the “small patch of congealed blood” found on Patrick’s head but doesn’t appear to be very focused and rather easily distracted from his investigations by offers from Mary. He does not appear to ask many questions and doesn’t investigate all the possibilities to Patrick’s death.
Jack Noonan and the other detectives with him do not appear very professional or experienced at their job because they know how Patrick died but do not sincerely work to find the “heavy blunt metal”. Jack Noonan and the other detectives accept a drink while they are working and never pay any attention to the house or the surroundings. Mary suggests certain things by implying the murderer is a man making Jack Noonan change the focus of the investigation. She also says that a man must have killed Patrick therefore not letting him think of her as a suspect at all. ‘Well,’ she said.
‘Here you all are, and good friends of dear Patrick’s too, and helping to catch the man who killed him’. She uses manipulative language to direct the detectives in the way she wishes. Mary then tries to get rid of the weapon, which was, she used to kill Patrick with my “begging” the detectives to eat the lamb. Jack Noonan doesn’t think carefully why she may be forcing him and the other detectives to eat the lamb in this manner but instead accepts to eat the lamb. Mary’s natural behaviour manipulates the police and this means they do not correctly investigate the crime scene and herself as a suspect in a professional manner.
However it can be argued that it is not really Jack Noonan’s fault completely because he knows Mary well as a friend and wouldn’t take her as a suspect. Whereas on the other hand Sherlock Holmes Is focused and determined, examining and asking questions all the time. This is the reason why he is successful and Jack Noonan is not. Jack Noonan and his team are not carefully examining things but are instead very quick and not thorough, a major reason for their downfall. Sherlock Holmes fits the stereotype best because he investigates the murder very thoroughly, concentrating only on his job.
This allows him to pick up the key clues and hence he is more successful in solving the mystery. The Victorian audience preferred a murder mystery to end with a solution, which was thought to be more typical when the detective always wins over the villain. A detective needs a great deal of confidence, self-belief, and determination and I personally can see this in Sherlock Holmes but definitely not in Jack Noonan. Other Sherlock Holmes adventures demonstrate this too. Dahl builds the vivid image of a cosy, home where there is nothing out of the ordinary.
Mary is seen as waiting for her husband with “the thought that every minute gone by made it nearer the time when he would come”(showing a clear love for him). She has “a certain smiling air about her”, possibly suggesting that she is in high spirits, or is cheerful. The reader sees Mary as a calm loving character. Mary is seen as a typical victim, being a woman and an expectant mother yet she turns out to be a murderer. The reader is assured that Patrick, Mary’s husband could not possibly be the victim as he is a police officer-sergeant and obviously a man; however they are fooled as he turns out to be the victim.
Tension is built up and then increased as Patrick arrives home, very tired and it is clear that there is something playing on his mind. It appears that something has happened and that he is uncomfortable in speaking to her. The reader is displeased because, Mary was eagerly waiting for her husband’s arrival and he doesn’t show any love for her and seems to be treating her like dirt. He appears irritated and gives short answers to the questions Mrs Maloney asks, “tired darling? ” “Yes” he said, “I’m tired”.
He drained his drink “in one swallow”, possibly because of something that he has done, implying that he may be trying to boost himself with some ‘Dutch courage”. The reader can see that he is irritated because he gives short monosyllabic answers and this is a technique the writer uses to builds up tension and suspense. Mary pursues her claim by constantly asking him for something which shows he is not interested and is building up anger inside him. Patrick asks Mary to sit beside him and tells her something, which she ignores and doesn’t react to in any way.