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Summary and Analysis

Roald Dahl wrote a short story called "The Landlady." It is included in his Collected Stories, which was published in 2006 by Everyman's Library.

The story takes place in England's Bath. It starts with 17-year-old Billy Weaver showing up via train in Shower; he has come here from London, for a task that is rarely determined. We only know that he has never been to Bath and does not know anyone there besides the "Branch Manager" in the area to whom he is supposed to report. We can infer that Billy works in an office because he's dressed in a suit and carries a briefcase. Billy's internal monologue also suggests that he is ambitious: He was attempting to do everything energetically nowadays. He had determined that briskness was the one trait shared by all successful businessmen" (Lines 33-36).

Billy needs to find a place to sleep. A porter at the train station tells him that there is a pub called the Bell and Dragon not far from the station when he inquires. A "bed-and-breakfast" sign in the window of one of the run-down houses Billy passes catches his attention, despite the fact that Billy would rather stay in a pub than a boardinghouse. The scene inside the house also captivates him: he can see a parrot, and a dachshund resting before a chimney. Before making a decision, he decides to look at the Bell and Dragon; However, the window sign has him in a strange state of hypnosis: Each word resembled a huge bruised eye gazing at him through the glass, holding him, convincing him, compelling him to remain where he was and not to leave that house [… ]" (Lines 104-08).

Billy rings the doorbell and is met very quickly by a charming looking moderately aged lady. She warmly greets him without introducing herself and invites him inside, stating that she has not had a visitor in a long time. Billy decides that despite the fact that she appears a little eccentric—she keeps forgetting his last name while simultaneously appearing oddly delighted to see him—he can bear her company for the low rent.

Billy is led to his room by "the landlady" and asked if he would like dinner. He informs her that due to his early morning work the following day, he prefers to go to bed earlier; She asks him to sign the living room's guestbook first. He sees two more names in the guestbook: Gregory W. Temple and Christopher Mulholland He is certain that he has seen these two names before and that they are also connected in some way; But when he asks the landlady if her two previous guests knew each other, she says no. She does, however, inform Billy that the two "boys" were approximately his age and rhapsodize about their attractiveness and charm.

Billy is offered tea by "the landlady," which has an oddly bitter taste that is reminiscent of almonds. This most likely indicates the cyanide smell.) Additionally, he detects an odd odor emanating from the landlady herself: It wasn't even remotely unpleasant, and it brought back memories for him that he wasn't quite sure of. Walnuts pickled? Fresh leather? Or was it a hospital's corridors? Lines 393-97). ( This smell most likely originates from taxidermy-related chemicals.) Billy gradually becomes convinced that he has seen the other two names in the guestbook from newspaper headlines as he sits with the landlady. Additionally, he observes that the parrot in the living room is actually stuffed and dead. The landlady informs him that her dachshund is also stuffed, and he compliments her on the parrot's lifelike appearance. Billy's response to this isn't one of ghastliness, yet rather "profound adoration" (Line 471). The reader makes the connection between Billy's fate and that of these creatures, but Billy doesn't. At the end of the story, he says no more tea but stays with the landlady in her parlor.

The Landlady


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