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Du er her: Skole > The yearning individuals in the relationship - a comparison of two short stories

The yearning individuals in the relationship - a comparison of two short stories

A comparison between two short stories: "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl, and "Cat in the Rain" by Ernest Hemingway.

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“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl and “Cat in the Rain” by Ernest Hemingway are both short stories about relationships between a man and a woman. These stories have several similarities and differences, which I am going to look upon in this article.


"Cat in the Rain" is situated in a hotel in Italy where the couple are spending their holiday. The husband is lying in bed, reading. He doesn’t give any signs to move, nor does he show any interest in his wife. He is in other words passive. When the American wife spots a cat out in the rain and tells her husband she’s going to get it, he offers to get it for her, but he doesn’t move a finger. This indicates that it was just a polite suggestion and he wasn’t really planning on going out in the rain for the cat, but he probably already knew what the wife’s answer would be. "The husband went on reading, lying propped up with the two pillows at the foot of the bed".


In "Lamb to the Slaughter", Patrick Maloney decides to tell his wife he wants a divorce. Mary Maloney reacts in a completely different way than the American husband in the other short story. At first she pretends she never heard it and leaves the room to find a lamb leg for dinner. She hits her husband in the back of his head, and he dies. Their relationship was very itchy from the beginning of the story, because of their cold responses and lack of lovely gestures. Patrick is clearly hiding something from his wife, and even though she knows there's something wrong, she decides to act normally and ignore his tension. Unlike George in "Cat in the Rain", she knows something is going to happen. She knows she's not in control, and that if her husband decides to leave her she won't be able to stand in his way. Patrick is very tense, and he's not certain of how his wife will react to him wanting a divorce. He’s more direct than the American wife, which probably means that the Maloney relationship has gone a bit further in the wrong direction compared to George and his wife’s relationship.

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