Roald Dahl Writing Styles in Lamb to the Slaughter

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Black Humor

Black humor is the use of the grotesque, morbid, or absurd for darkly comic purposes. Black humor became widespread in popular culture, especially in literature and film, beginning in the 1950s; it remains popular toward the end of the twentieth century. Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 (1961) is one of the best-known examples in American fiction. The short stories of James Thurber and the stories and novels of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. also offer examples. The image of the cheerful housewife suddently smashing her husband's skull with the frozen joint of meat intended for his dinner is itself blackly humorous for its unexpectedness and the grotesque incongruity of the murder weapon. There is a morbid but funny double meaning, too, in Mary's response to her grocer's question about meat: "I've got meat, thanks. I got a nice leg of lamb from the freezer." She did indeed get a leg of...

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This section contains 609 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Lamb to the Slaughter Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
Lamb to the Slaughter from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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