Revenge and Murder, Justified with the Characters in the Short Story, Killings

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This examination will look at the short story “Killings” by Andre Dubus and the main characters in the story. The story begins on a warm August day with the burial of Matt and Ruth Fowler’s youngest son Frank. Frank’s age: “twenty-one years, eight months, and four days” (Dubus 107). Attending the funeral were Matt, his wife Ruth, their adult children and spouses. Matt’s family is extremely distraught over the murder of their youngest son/brother, in their own way. There are implications of wanting to kill Richard Strout, the guy accused of being the murderer: “I should kill him” (107), as stated after the service. This comment is considered a fore-shadowing of what is to come in the thought progression of Matt and Ruth. Ruth Fowler is Matt’s wife of many years and the mother of their three children: Steve, Cathleen and the now murdered Frank. Ruth cannot come to terms with Frank’s death and is haunted at all times of the day, whether at home or out in the town running errands, “She was at Sunnyhurst today getting cigarettes and aspirin, and there he was. She can’t even go out for cigarettes and aspirin. It’s killing her” (108). This quote is a symbolism of her mental state. The anguish of just seeing her son’s killer on the streets with freedom is more than Ruth can mentally comprehend. Ruth continually applies emotional pressure to her husband with comments and allusions to why the killer is still able to roam freely while their son cannot, “And at nights in bed she would hold Matt and cry, or sometimes she was silent and Matt would touch her tightening arm, her clinched fist” (112). Before the murder, Ruth had concerns about her son Frank’s relationship with the killer’s estranged wife and fears the worst for her ... ... middle of paper ... Strout came in the front door and shot Frank twice in the chest and once in the face with a 9 mm auto-matic (112). Matt Fowler’s thoughts transform into revenge as a way of healing for his family. He plans the assassination of Richard Strout. After months of planning, Matt waits for Strout to get off work: “when Strout came around it alone [the building], [sic] Matt got out of the car, giving up the hope he had kept all night (and for the week) that Strout would come out with friends” (Dubus 112-113). Ironic symbolization: Matt Fowler didn’t really want to kill Richard Strout: however, he had to protect his family and avenge the murder of his son. One murder ultimately justifies the second murder within the mindset of Matt. The story concludes with not only two murders, but also with the insinuation of the second murder being justified by Matt and Ruth

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