“Lamb to the Slaughter” Roald Dahl English 9A Mr. Shimizu Nov. 2013
Significance of the Title The phrase “lamb to the slaughter” (which describes a helpless and/or innocent victim) has its origins in the Bible. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.” Jeremiah 11: 19 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53: 7
Roald Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 to Norwegian immigrants; dad died in 1920. Was caned at 8 along with 5 other boys for putting a dead mouse in a jar of gobstoppers at a local sweet shop. Flew fighter planes during WWII in the RAF Married actress Patricia Neal and they had 5 kids but many family troubles: son briefly suffered from hydrocephalus after his baby carriage was hit by a cab in NYC; daughter Olivia died from measles at 7; Patricia suffered 3 cerebral aneurysms during her 5th pregnancy and Dahl had to help her relearn how to walk and talk. Died in 1990 at 74 from a blood disease and was buried with chocolate, HB pencils,billiard cues, and a power saw.
Dahl is one of the most bestselling authors in the world and is celebrated as an author of children’s stories. Some of his works include: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, etc. His stories for kids featured sadistic adults (Wonka, Ms. Trunchbull) and orphaned kids (James is orphaned after an escaped rhino eats his parents). His short stories for adults are known for their twist endings and dark humor. This story comes from his 1954 short story collection Someone Like You. Dahl enjoyed Norwegian myths, ghost stories, works by Dickens and Kipling.
Sexism in 1953 America (when Dahl’s story was first published in Harper’s Mag.
Preview of Conflict • Men vs. Women • The roles men can playin society • The roles women can play in society Getting what we want vs. Not getting what we want • Husbands vs. Wives • Affection • Fidelity • Appreciation
Third person limited omniscient point of view… The narrator can hear and relate Mary's thoughts and feelings but only her thoughts and feelings. “Her first instinct was not to believe any of it. She thought that perhaps she imagined the whole thing. Perhaps, if she acted as though she had not heard him, she would find out that none of it had ever happened.”
Review of Characterization • Show, don’t tell! • Camera test: if a camera can see it, you are showing and not telling • DIRECT CHARACTERIZATIONtells you what a character is like using descriptive adjectives and phrases. • Ex. The patient boy. • INDIRECT CHARACTERIZATION shows you what a character is like using STEAL (see the graphic on the right) • Ex. The girl narrowed her eyes and leaned towards me so that her face was only an inch away from mine. “I … want … you … gone!” Speech Thoughts Effect on other people How do others behave towards him? How do others react to her? Actions Looks (appearance)
Characters in “Lamb to the Slaughter” MARY MALONEY= protagonist; six months pregnant with her first child; she loves her husband and seems to love her life as a housewife. PATRICK MALONEY = a senior police officer who doesn’t share Mary’s love of their home life SAM = the grocer who sells Mary some vegetables for Patrick’s dinner JACK NOONAN, CHARLIE = two of the detectives who come to investigate the scene of the crime
Pregnancy and Hormones During pregnancy, a woman’s levels of estrogen (an upper) and progesterone (a downer) rise dramatically, along with the stress hormone cortisol. This supports the development of the fetus but can cause swift mood swings in pregnant woman, according to psychiatrist Deborah Sichel, of the Hestia Institute. Sarah Berga, M.D., professor and director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine: "A major change in your hormone levels, such as during pregnancy and after delivery, can serve as a stressor in and of itself, magnifying the effects of other stressors in your life." April 24, 2009 lifestyle article from ShapeMagazine http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/tame-your-raging-hormones
DRAMATIC IRONY = Where the audience knows information that at least one of the characters in the story does not … there is a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the audience knows is true. Fortunato doesn’t know Montresor means to kill him in “The Cask of Amontillado” but readers do … Romeo doesn’t know that Juliet isn’t really dead when he races back to Verona, but the reader does ...
Questions to think about as we read • How do the roles we play in everyday life affect who we are and how we act? • How does Dahl use both direct and indirect characterization to reveal character? • How responsible are we for our actions? Is “temporary insanity due to pregnancy” a valid defense?