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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Summary and Analysis Essay on Killings by Andre Dubus

Summary and Analysis of Killings by Andre Dubus

The story “The Killings”, written by Andre Dubus, is about the crimes committed by the two characters, Richard Strout and Matt Fowler. A short story about father’s love for his son to exact revenge by killing the murderer, but soon is caught up with the action that lead to his own destruction.

Richard Strout commits a crime of passion: he murders the man who is having an affair with his estranged wife. He is incensed when he finds out that his wife was seeing another man while the divorce is still pending. After the killing he feels to be quite justified and do not feel a bit of remorse of what he has done. He never seems to mind the consequences but continue the life he lives. Strout is depicted in the short story as an amoral and man of passion.

Matt Fowler is a man of great moral fortitude. He is faced with the questions of morality when his son is murdered, and seeing his wife suffering for the loss of their son he is motivated by private revenge-on the part of the child-, and protection for the safety of his wife.  Fowler performed the act with his friend Willis Trottier, and they both killed Strout. Instead of feeling a sense of satisfaction and justification over his son’s death he is overcome with a profound sense of isolation. 

The title itself defines the whole story. Revenge is hinted at right at the beginning of the story. The writer uses the third person point of view, where the reader is able to see the family’s ways of coping through the loss. Dubus provide a conventional plot pattern where the characters are confronted with a problem, reached into the climax then finally came to a resolution in the end. Dubus adds in flashbacks so that the reader can fully understand the actions and behaviors of the characters. Matt Fowler and Richard Strout are both the murderers and victims of the story. The writer wanted to set the mood at the start of the story – a mother with a broken heart and the father who is torn between contemplating crime and doing what is morally right. The story began to get a little predictable in the rising action but as the plot thickened Matt Fowler begins to question the plan on how Robert could be taken care of.  The couple decided to take revenge on their own hands on the basis they are concerned that the system will not punish Strout enough. After murdering Strout and burying the body, Matt returns home. Ruth is aware of what Matt has done, and is relieved and desirious of her husband after learning of the revenge. But Matt became a different person  (Dubus, 1979) (Johnson, 2011). 

Andre Dubus uses symbolism to describe the person’s confrontation with morality has to deal with hoping to end his family’s suffering and his own internal struggles to stop.  Dubus uses the eye as a symbol of showing love and sympathy, anger and  pain.

In popular movies, the main characters who are wronged or have their family killed, money and property are taken away shot, stab, massacre those who injure them or take law into their own hands and the watchers feel that the justice has been done. What makes Matt Fowler different from revenge heroes portrayed in film is he knows that killing Richard is morally wrong. After Matt finally accomplishes his goal of killing Strout, his own internal struggles escalates and couldn’t find satisfaction so he went to isolation, cut out from his family, time and history. He could not tell to his children what he did to Richard, thus he will continue to live in pain.  Matt is a sympathetic character, completely blameless with the events in the story until his son was killed.
Works cited:
Dubus, Andre. "Killings." The Sewanee Review (1979): 197-218.
Johnson, Daniel, and Susan Bandes. "ELICITING AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE: An Analysis of Revenge and the Criminal Justice System." (2011).

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Related Topics:
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Essay on Birth Control and Sexual Abstinence

A Closer Look on the Effects of Promoting Abstinence and Birth Control to Teens

Should U.S. schools educate students about birth control, or promote sexual abstinence instead?
Abstinence is defined as the act of abstaining from sexual intercourse. This is being taught to many teenagers to protect them from unwanted pregnancies, which has escalated at an alarming rate over the past decade (Males, 2010). The number of young adults with sexually transmitted diseases also increases, making the issue on pre-marital sex one of the debates in the society. In many countries, teenagers are being given sex education with an emphasis on abstinence to lessen the rate of early and unwanted pregnancies.

There are a lot of reasons why teens are encouraged to be abstinent until they are married. Aside from unwanted pregnancy and the idea that pre-marital sex is morally wrong, sexual intercourse even before marriage may also cause them diseases like STD and HIV AIDS. Education on abstinence does not focus on information about different methods of birth control because those who promote abstinence believe that this technique is already effective in discouraging the youth to engage in pre-marital sex.

On the other hand, many people disagree. Those who oppose the promotion of abstinence believe that there is no guarantee that teens will engage in pre-marital sex even if they say that they won’t. Many of the young adults have in fact started to experiment with sex at younger ages. Further, by telling the teens to be abstinent would only make them more curious and interested to have sex.

By educating the youth about birth control, they become aware of the options that are available if they will choose to have sexual intercourse. The youth will be able to learn about the different methods of preventing pregnancy and even provided with lots of information about their possible choices. Abstinence education, on the other hand, does not involve information on contraception. Teens, in abstinence education, are spared the emotional and psychological trauma that comes with unwanted pregnancy. Young girls who became pregnant at a very young age affirm the unhappiness, regret, and depression incurred during and after the pregnancy. 

Indeed, both ways of saving the teens from having kids at a very young age and getting diseases from engaging in pre-marital sex have advantages and disadvantages. But looking at the bigger picture, one could say that the evolution of the world in terms of technology, fashion, and other trends affect this societal problem. Every day, teenagers see hundreds of product advertisements on television, magazines, and billboards that convey sexual messages. They see movies or television show with people doing or even depicting sex, making them more aware and interested about it.

Even though dispositions towards media may vary, research shows that the media portrayal of sex influence the young audience’s perceptions on sexual activities (Gunter, 2002). Sex is used to sell products and portrayed as a way to attain a status in the group or society. The teen idols are even portrayed as objects for sexual pleasure. The products being sold in the market are associated with sex. With all these around, adolescent find it hard to get away from it. Teens that are exposed to sex through the mainstream media are absolutely more likely to engage in sexual activity (Jones, 2006). 
Helping young adults to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases will be a shared responsibility of parents, peers, school, and society. Teens can only be encouraged to be abstinent if they are not exposed to a lot of information from media and community that these teens belong to. But with availability of sources on sexual information, teens must also be taught the importance of birth control. This important information is not meant to encourage them to engage to pre-marital sex but rather help them to have an informed choice.

Gunter, B. (2002). Media Sex: What Are The Issues? USA: Routledge
Jones, S. (2006). Media Influence on Adolescent Sex. Retrieved Jan 14, 2012 from
Males, M. (2010). Teenage Sex and Pregnancy: Modern Myths, Unsexy Realities. USA: ABC-CLIO

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Essay on Ethics in Policing and Corrections

Essay on Ethics in Policing and Corrections

a) Describe why it is important for criminal justice professionals to study ethics.
b) Explain how applying ethical approaches assists criminal justice professionals in making appropriate and correct decisions. 

Ethics, often referred to as moral philosophy, is a field of philosophy that deals with questions regarding what is right, wrong, good, bad and how individuals should live. Typically people assign right and wrong with their or other people’s behaviors, conduct, or action. It provides us with a way to decide which is which when we are uncertain about the proper thing to do in a situation. Ethics is often used is various industries and fields primarily because it acts as a guide in making difficult decisions especially when dealing with moral issues (Sage 2). 

The criminal justice system as well as law enforcement are just some of the fields that greatly benefits the use of ethics. This is largely because this field, more than any other, deals with the concept of right and wrong on a daily basis. And more often than not, police and other law enforcement officers find themselves caught in scenarios when emotions and other personal values could get in the way of ensuring a proper legal procedure. Furthermore, using instincts and even emotions does not offer a proper solution to a moral dilemma. This is where ethics come in. Ethical consideration allows the police to come up with enlightened judgments which involve due process, discretion and force (Sage 2).

Another importance of ethics in policing, enables an individual to analyze and even question assumptions not commonly raised in areas such as politics and business. It allows the person to raise and take action on important issues such as the relation of justice and crime, authority, role of law enforcement, role of prison as well punishment and its limit. Ethics enable common individuals to question and be active on things that matter instead of blindly accepting whatever that is handed to them (Sage 3).

Studying and practicing ethics is particularly important in law enforcement and policing. This is because it increases the individual’s sense of right and wrong, thus guiding them on how to properly and professionally conduct themselves. Similarly, it enables them to properly carry out their job functions and responsibilities. Likewise, ethics assists law officials in identifying questionable actions such as bribery among many others (Sage 3).

The criminal justice system will also find studying and practicing ethics in their field as it develops the capacity of a criminal justice professional in pointing moral reasoning in times behaviors and actions are being justified. This means that it develops their skills in making ethical decisions. In addition, ethics can help professionals behave and act responsibly and accordingly. It is important to note that this profession involves exercising authority as well as power over other people. In some cases, they are even authorized to use physical coercion and force. Abusing these privileges and power can be very tempting. Ethics however functions as a crucial guide to professionals particularly when they are tasked to carry decisions which involve force and discretion among others (Sage 4).
Ethics is also crucial in management and policy making within the criminal justice system. Being able to discern and exercise moral judgement allows professionals to come up with decisions regarding punishments. It allows them to properly weigh choices such as whether to imprison or rehabilitate a person. Similarly, ethics allows the individual to trust his or her decision as it has the knowledge that it was done not only for the greater good but also with the consideration of the offender’s best interest (Sage 4).

Works Cited

The Importance of Ethics in Criminal Justice. 30 January 2004. Sage Publications. 19 January
2013 <>

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Food Inc. Documentary Response Paper

Food Inc. Documentary Response Paper

Over the last century man was able to perfect the process of mass food production. From the meat and dairy products up to fruits and vegetables, everything inside in the supermarket is now being mass produced. And although this intensive production system is a billion dollar industry, the media as well as activist groups are now highlighting the limitations as well as the cruelty involved in food companies’ mass production methods. The true nature of this industry was exposed in the documentary film Food Inc.

The documentary Food Inc. provides a glimpse of corporate farming in the United States. It particularly exposes the unhealthy, harmful, and even abusive process behind the agribusiness. The documentary immediately opens with the scene of a typical America supermarket. What is noticeable about most of the products in the grocery is the packaging of the products. In fact, most of the products in the shelf often give the idea that it is “naturally” produced in a farm surrounded by green pastures by local farmers. This marketing method gives the consumers a false image of how and what is behind the production of such items. Instead of a pastoral farm, products such as meat are actually processed in a huge industrial slaughter house. Hundreds, if not thousands of cow carcasses are transferred using a conveyor belt inside a factory-like slaughter house. Cows are likewise fed with corn despite the fact that this is not their natural food. This is done by the company because of the cheap cost of corn and at the same time it speeds up their development. Alternately, chickens are raised in cramped chicken houses where they are given growth hormones so that they will develop faster and ready for production. These chickens are similarly cramped by the thousands where they neither see nor feel the sunlight. These graphic representation largely contradicts that “farm fresh” image presented by the companies. What is even more interesting to point out is that these products are not properly labeled by the companies. Instead, consumers are given the false idea about how it is produced.

Apart from these, the documentary also highlights the detrimental effects of modifying the animals’ diet both on the environment and human’s health. This is underlined in the story of Barbara Kowalcyk. Barbara talks about her advocacy regarding food safety and how the death of her 2-year old son from E-coli pushed her to lobby to the US Congress to pass a legislation for stricter and more effective USDA food testing regulation. This part of the documentary gives us an insight of the negative impact of mass produced animal products. Similarly, it shows the viewers how children can sometimes suffer because of the lenient regulations of food safety as well as the carelessness of these food companies.

Another important part of the documentary is the illegal practices of these huge food conglomerates when it comes to labor. Illegal Mexican immigrants are employed as workers for the primary reason that their labor cost is cheap and that the company need not spend on benefits. The film likewise showed the cruel practices of this labor when it comes to slaughtering the animals.
The images shown in the documentary only goes to show that there is so much injustice and deception that happens behind the methods of producing these products. Despite these gloom revelations, what is important to point out that we, the public, have the capability to put an end to all these. Instead of blindly accepting what the food conglomerate hands us, we must learn how to question and demand for something better. The consumer must also understand the power of their voice and how this voice can push the companies to change and improve their production methods.

Kenner, R. (2008). Food Inc. 

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