In Roald Dahl's Short story "Lamb to the Slaughter," set in the early twentieth century, a murder is brewing. It is not a typical murder. As the detectives strive for answers, not realizing what they are eating, Dahl communicates to the reader that the contrast is unexpected.
Dahl begins his narrative in third person participant, limited omniscient point of view. A house wife is expecting her husband home, but unaware of the news yet to come. Rather than stating this directly, Dahl subtly suggests it by expressing Mary's personality. "The drop of a head as she bent over her sewing was curiously tranquil." As the author goes on the reader senses a tense mood between husband and wife. This serves the purpose of foreshadowing by hinting at a future problem or disagreement.
At this point, Patrick, the husband, expresses to Mary what he is feeling. This leads her into a state of rejection. "It occurred to her that perhaps he hadn't even spoken, that she herself had imagined the whole thing." However, she continued to want to cook for him. As if she were a robot, she went down into the basement and picked a leg of lamb to cook for supper. "Everything was automatic now.".
The theme begins to arise with Mary striking Patrick over the head with the leg of lamb. This blow killed him within seconds. Mary then quickly plots a way to cover the murder. This theme of contrast is repeated when Mary is speaking with the detectives. "Briefly, she told her story about going out to the grocer and coming back to find him on the floor." After stating the theme to the reader, Dahl is ready to reveal the cover up.
The reader is not prepared for what is to come. Mary begins to feel badly about what she has done, but she must not tell the detectives in order to protect her unborn child. The detectives ask many questions pertaining to the murder weapon. " Did she know, he asked, of anything in the house that could've been used as the weapon?".