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Summary and Analysis Essay on Killings by Andre Dubus
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.
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 andpain.
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.
Andre. "Killings." The Sewanee Review (1979): 197-218.
Daniel, and Susan Bandes. "ELICITING AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE: An Analysis of
Revenge and the Criminal Justice System." (2011).