‘Lamb to the Slaughter’: the shocking truth

“Lamb to the Slaughter” is a short story by Roald Dahl published in 1954, where the main character, Mary Maloney, uses a frozen leg of lamb to kill her husband after learning that he is divorcing her. She convinces the police officers who later come to her house that she did not kill him, and then cooks the leg of lamb and has them eat it to destroy the evidence. The following is a personal opinion about the story.




Mary Maloney has been assumed for far too long to be fairly normal. She may be insane and a murderer, but those are not entirely uncommon traits. However, shocking new evidence has come to light that has led to the discovery of the truth: she is, in fact, a giant slug. 

Roald Dahl has included direct evidence in the story for this. Clearly he intended for readers to know that she is a slug, but most people fail to understand certain complexities of his work. 

Most obvious are the physical descriptions of her. Dahl states that “she’d slopped out to the grocer.” This is clearly imagery of the movement of her large, slimy body. 

It is also stated several times that she has large eyes. Perhaps this is not intended to mean that they are wide, but rather is a description of the long, conspicuous stalks they are on, protruding from her head.  

She is also “feeling cold” at one point in the story. In less insightful interpretations, this is assumed to be about her emotional state, but it is much more likely to be literal; slugs are cold-blooded animals. She was simply feeling cold because her body could not produce heat. 

Her eating habits are further proof of the truth. She never ate any meat in the entire story. When she buys food from the grocer, she says she wants potatoes and peas, which would most likely both be readily eaten by a slug, especially after being cooked. The leg of lamb was first intended for her husband, and then for the police officers. It was never for her because slugs are herbivores. It is even mentioned in the story that she has a garden around the house; this garden is probably to grow vegetables for her to eat, as slugs do. 

Perhaps the best evidence is the way she’s treated by the other characters in the story. Her husband, Patrick Maloney, barely treats her like a person. After telling her that he’s divorcing her, his main concern seems to be his job, and he believes that it would all be okay if he gives her money and makes sure someone takes care of her, as if he thinks she wouldn’t care about losing her beloved husband. He seems to ignore her emotions and treat her more like an object than a person, having no sympathy for her. Maybe, this is because she is actually a slug and not a human, which would also explain why he decided to divorce her.

It is explained in the beginning of the story that Mary Maloney is pregnant. Perhaps Patrick is leaving her because the child couldn’t be his, because she’s a slug. 

When she learns that her husband is going to divorce her, she hits him on the head once with a frozen leg of lamb, killing him. This would take impressive strength; she may have this strength because she is a slug and many slugs can lift up to ten times their body weight. 

The police officers who come to her house afterward are also uncomfortable in her presence, since she is a giant slug. Most people would be uncomfortable having a conversation with a slug, especially when they themselves are humans who presumably have not talked to slugs before. 

This evidence overwhelmingly points to an incredible, shocking reality: Mary Maloney is not a human, but a terrestrial gastropod. How this information will affect our daily lives has yet to be seen, but surely it will be revolutionary. Only time will tell how humanity will react to this critical new information.