Primarily, “Killings” concerns a crime and its consequences. The lead character, Matt Fowler goes one step too far and identifies with the evil that tragically marred his life-the murder of his son. Matt and his friend Willis Trottier executed Richard Strout, the man who killed his son. This murder was more of a private revenge than of protection but the character’s act was partially motivated by his wish to protect his wife who suffered every time she encounters their son’s murderer ( & , 2000, ). As Dubus wrote, “Ruth can’t even go out for cigarettes and aspirin....She sees him all the time. It makes her cry” ( ). While it is obviously too late to protect his son, Fowler experiences his son’s murder as an assault on his fatherhood and on his wish to protect his children. Matt could no longer tolerate watching his wife deteriorate before his eyes simply because she cannot cope with the loss of their son. Finally, he decided to bring grief resolution to both of them by killing Strout.
Fowler is extremely saddened by his act. In the story, Strout, the man who is shot, is clearly guilty but he is also a human being and that knowledge was suppressed by Fowler to kill him. At the end of the story...
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...wler was ironic in nature. He depicts anger by avenging his son’s death but ended up with self death as a result of his own crime.
Matt committed a kind of self murder by killing Strout. He is the judge, jury and the executioner which invites the readers to feel the anger and righteousness of the character. It also makes the readers think whether the cleanly executed revenge murder is morally justified. Even though his son’s murderer admits his guilt and is sentenced for his crime, the character’s fixation on revenge identifies him with a dark side of the murderous revenge.
The story concludes not only with two physical killings but the moral death of the character as well. The character was apt to take the law into his own hand to avenge and protect his family. There is no abstract moral judgment but it is clear that the psychic price of the action comes high.
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