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"Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl

I. Text

"Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl

For my text I chose Roald Dahl's 1953 "Lamb to the Slaughter," an old favorite and a text that I thought would be more accessible for those unfamiliar with it (in both length and content). 

II. Annotation/Interpretation 

Themes, tone, atmosphere, objects

  • Characters: Mary Maloney, Patrick Maloney, Sam, Jack Noonan, detectives, doctor, photographer, fingerprint man
  • interior, domestic space (room, curtains, 2 lit table lamps, cupboard, drinks)
  • quiet, calm, peaceful (ease v. unease/shock)
  • cooking (for men), sewing (more stereotypically feminized or delicate tasks) 
  • expecting (husband & child to be)
  • warm v. cold (warmth of room, warmth that came out of her husband, freezer, coldness felt after murder) 
  • strong v. weak (drinks, sexes) 
  • male v. female 
  • social protocol/rules (& the disintegration of them)
  • mouths (loved the shape of her husband's mouth, forcing a smile, laughing, full of meat)
  • potatoes, beans, piece of cake, leg of lamb, groceries 
  • ordinary/everyday things corrupted
  • police investigation (emphasis on murder weapon)
  • "eat it up" repetition
  • establishing order or routine/ unnatural instinct for order
  • violence, murder
  • deception, staging 
  • normalcy/natural v. the unnatural
  • not seeing what is "right under out noses"/blindness 

III. Sketches

Here are some of my sketches, quick visual interpretations that explore a variety of the themes that I gleaned from the text.   

Though I would like to work on a number of these, I will move forward with 3 general directions (with possible slight variations of some), which I think most interestingly represented the text and will also be fun and feasible to make, including:

  • mouths
  • stitched type (or stitching over type)
  • cool white on white objects (fork, knife, napkin/oven mitt) 

Working with a number of interesting tensions in the text, I rather enjoyed the sketching process, but am ready to dive into the next phase of crafting the cover (and possibly do some more visual research for some examples). In most cases, I also discover new insights during the making process (especially when working with physical materials), so there is a good chance many of these will be enlightened by it.

IV. Early Designs

V. Final Design

To clarify, the "eat it up" on the cover would be transparent glossy text overlaying a matte cover. Placed on the cover, this message from the text has the added role of calling out to the viewer. I thought it might be interesting to play that up, while keeping it as a secondary read to the title and author, with the transparent glossy text that would catch the eye with it's sheen and add a sense of tactility. 

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