Lamb to the Slaughter

Patrick Maloney (the husband) Character Analysis

The husband of Mary Maloney, Patrick Maloney is a police detective who cares more about his work than his marriage. Despite Mary’s best attempts to make him comfortable and care for him, he does not reciprocate her efforts or feeling. He callously tells Mary that he has decided to abandon his marriage, and is then killed by Mary herself with a frozen leg of lamb. Though the narrator explicitly discusses Mary’s idolization of Patrick and his masculinity, Patrick’s name is not revealed until halfway through the story, after he has already died.

Patrick Maloney (the husband) Quotes in Lamb to the Slaughter

The Lamb to the Slaughter quotes below are all either spoken by Patrick Maloney (the husband) or refer to Patrick Maloney (the husband). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Lamb to the Slaughter published in 1990.
Lamb to the Slaughter Quotes

The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight—hers and the one by the empty chair opposite. On the sideboard behind her, two tall glasses, soda water, whisky. Fresh ice cubes in the Thermos bucket.
Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from work.

Related Characters: Mary Maloney, Patrick Maloney (the husband)
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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She knew he didn’t want to speak much until the first drink was finished, and she, on her side, was content to sit quietly, enjoying his company after the long hours alone in the house. She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man, and to feel—almost as a sunbather feels the sun—that warm male glow that came out of him to her when they were alone together.

Related Characters: Mary Maloney, Patrick Maloney (the husband)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

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And I know it’s kind of a bad time to be telling you, but there simply wasn’t any other way. Of course I’ll give you money and see you’re looked after. But there needn’t really be any fuss. I hope not anyway. It wouldn’t be very good for my job.

Related Characters: Patrick Maloney (the husband) (speaker), Mary Maloney
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.
She might just as well have hit him with a steel club.
She stepped back a pace, waiting, and the funny thing was that he remained standing there for at least four or five seconds, gently swaying. Then he crashed to the carpet.

Related Characters: Mary Maloney, Patrick Maloney (the husband)
Related Symbols: Lamb/Leg of lamb
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sometimes Jack Noonan spoke to her gently as he passed by. Her husband, he told her, had been killed by a blow on the back of the head administered with a heavy blunt instrument, almost certainly a large piece of metal. They were looking for the weapon. The murderer may have taken it with him, but on the other hand he may’ve thrown it away or hidden it somewhere on the premises.

“It’s the old story,” he said. “Get the weapon, and you’ve got the man.”

Related Characters: Jack Noonan (speaker), Mary Maloney, Patrick Maloney (the husband)
Related Symbols: Lamb/Leg of lamb
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Here you all are, and good friends of dear Patrick’s too, and helping to catch the man who killed him. You must be terribly hungry by now because it’s long past your supper time, and I know Patrick would never forgive me, God bless his soul, if I allowed you to remain in his house without offering you decent hospitality. Why don’t you eat up that lamb that’s in the oven? It’ll be cooked just right by now.”

Related Characters: Mary Maloney (speaker), Patrick Maloney (the husband), Jack Noonan, O’Malley
Related Symbols: Lamb/Leg of lamb
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.

“That’s the hell of a big club the guy must’ve used to hit poor Patrick,” one of them was saying. “The doc says his skull was smashed all to pieces just like from a sledge-hammer.”

“Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.
“Probably right under our very noses. What you think, Jack?”
And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.

Related Characters: Mary Maloney, Patrick Maloney (the husband), Jack Noonan
Related Symbols: Lamb/Leg of lamb
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Patrick Maloney (the husband) Character Timeline in Lamb to the Slaughter

The timeline below shows where the character Patrick Maloney (the husband) appears in Lamb to the Slaughter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lamb to the Slaughter
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...Maloney is at home alone, sitting across from an empty chair and waiting for her husband to return from work. (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
When her husband arrives home, Mary greets him with a kiss and an endearment, hangs his coat up... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Food/Consumption Theme Icon
For Mary, this post-work ritual is “blissful,” despite her husband’s silence, which she accommodates and mirrors. She has been home alone all day and she... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Contrary to their usual ritual, the husband downs half his glass in one swallow and goes to get more, ordering Mary to... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Food/Consumption Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
Mary repeatedly asks her husband if he would like something to eat, offering suggestions and insisting that he eat. He... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Food/Consumption Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
...leaves out the details of the conversation, but allows the reader to discern that Mary’s husband is leaving her. The husband acknowledges that “it’s kind of a bad time,” promising to... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Food/Consumption Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
Mary, shocked and unwilling to believe what her husband has told her, decides to act as if nothing has happened. Absently, she goes down... (full context)
Role Reversals Theme Icon
Food/Consumption Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
Without warning, Mary walks up to her husband and bashes the back of his head with the frozen leg of lamb, which the... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Role Reversals Theme Icon
The noise brings Mary out of shock as she recognizes that her husband is dead. She quickly realizes that she would get the death penalty if discovered, and... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Role Reversals Theme Icon
Food/Consumption Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
...briefly and casually with Sam, the grocer, pretending that she is gathering food for her husband’s dinner and speaking about Patrick (her husband) as if he is still alive. On her... (full context)
Role Reversals Theme Icon
Two policemen, Jack Noonan and O’Malley, both former colleagues and friends of Patrick, arrive. Still crying, Mary tells them that she went out to the grocer and came... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Role Reversals Theme Icon
After Patrick’s body is removed and the doctor, photographer, and fingerprint expert leave, the policemen, still “exceptionally... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Jack Noonan occasionally speaks to Mary, explaining how Patrick was killed. He says that the murder weapon was probably a heavy piece of metal,... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Role Reversals Theme Icon
Food/Consumption Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
...“small favour” — that they eat the lamb as a reward for being friends of Patrick and for helping to catch his killer. After some hesitation, the men agree and go... (full context)