Theme Analysis of Killings by Andre Dubus Essay

Theme Analysis of Killings by Andre Dubus Essay

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“Killings", written by Andre Dubus in 1979, involves several aspects such as revenge, morality, and murder. Elements, such as the story’s title, the order of events, and the development of the characters, are very unique. It successfully evokes emotion and suspense as the plot unfolds in sequence. Though it seems easily overlooked, the title “Killings” is very important due to the fact that the thrill of suspense is left in the mind of the reader. The title encourages readers to question who and what. It is also an intricate setting for the plot’s mood. It implies that a murder has taken place, but that is all the reader knows. The chronology of the story uses a style called "in media res”, a term used to describe the common strategy of beginning a story in the middle of the action or entering on the verge of some important moment (Meyer 2198). In this story, the readers are shown that murder not only takes a life, but it can also take away a living persons sense of self worth, their spirit.
The story is set during an August morning at a funeral service for Frank Fowler, the youngest son of Matt Fowler (lead character in the story). In the opening paragraph, Frank’s older brother Steve says, "I should kill him” (Dubus 107), indicating some type of revenge. Matt indicates that he also wants revenge based on a conversation with his friend, Willis Trottier. Matt tells Trottier “Ruth would shoot him herself, if she thought she could hit him” (Dubus 109), implying that she would also seek revenge if she was able. Steve’s statement foreshadowed the mindset of revenge that the other characters have in the story.
In Dubus’ portrayal of his character Matt, we watch him evolve from a very kind, loving father and husband into a m...


... middle of paper ...


...d liberation in hopes that he has ended Ruth’s suffering, he overpowered by guilt and isolation.
There is irony to Matt’s character because the readers are seeing his dark side with a desire to kill, but the reader is also sympathizing with the grief and guilt from killing another human being. Dubus shows the reader that although Matt avenges Frank’s death, it became his own self death.
There is no question that the love Matt had for Frank was the motivation to kill Richard Strout. The story ends with two physical killings and a moral death as well. Vengeance comes at a very high price, death.


Works Cited
Dubus, Andre. "Killings." Meyer, Michael. In The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 107 - 120.
Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 2189.

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