Quote 1

And he told her. It didn’t take long, four or five minutes at most, and she sat very still through it all, watching him with a kind of dazed horror as he went further and further away from her with each word.

This is indicative of Dahl’s cunning writing style. Patrick’s announcement is the catalyst for everything that happens from this point forward, yet his actual words and the specifics of his revelation are never stated. Dahl and the narrator heighten the suspense by forcing their audience to draw their own conclusions.

Quote 2

She came out slowly, feeling cold and surprised, and she stood for a while blinking at the body, still holding the ridiculous piece of meat tight with both hands.

The narrator’s portrayal of Mary and her feelings immediately following the murder is atmospheric. She is described as feeling cold which is in direct opposition to the warmth of that same room at the story’s opening. That was when Mary was filled with the anticipation of a pleasant evening with her husband, but he is now a corpse. That the narrator refers to the piece of meat as “ridiculous” accentuates the dark humor of such a macabre situation, and the fact that she holds the leg of lamb with both hands emphasizes the importance its weight will have over the course of the story.

Quote 3

No, she said. She didn’t feel she could move even a yard at the moment. Would they mind awfully if she stayed just where she was until she felt better. She didn’t feel too good at the moment, she really didn’t.

This is a strategic moment in Mary’s trickery. She has been somewhat forgotten as she sits in an armchair while the murder investigation proceeds around her, but she has been observing, listening, and analyzing the procedures all the while. When Jack Noonan turns his solicitous attention onto her again and offers her a reprieve from having to witness the investigation, which he assumes must be troubling to her, she feigns exhaustion so that she can maintain her observation perch and interact when necessary. By presenting the conversation in narrative form rather than using dialogue, Dahl highlights the subtlety of Mary’s craftiness.

Quote 4

The woman stayed where she was, listening to them through the open door, and she could hear them speaking among themselves, their voices thick and sloppy because their mouths were full of meat.

This sensual description lays out a scene of both alienation and irony. The narrator does not designate Mary by name or with a pronoun here and instead calls her “the woman.” This highlights the fact that she is the only woman in the story and currently surrounded by men who pity and underestimate her.

Mary succeeds in deceiving the officers without even leaving her armchair, and the police unwittingly help her escape arrest and prosecution.