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A Summary and Analysis of "Killings" by Andre Dubus

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Words: 675 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 675|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Conclusion

Introduction

Andre Dubus’ short story "Killings" provides a profound exploration of grief, revenge, and moral complexity. First published in 1979, it delves into the emotional turmoil experienced by a family following the senseless murder of their son. The narrative, set in a small New England town, is both a compelling and unsettling examination of the human condition. Dubus’ story is a poignant reflection on the costs of vengeance and the heavy burden borne by those who seek it.

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Body Paragraph

The story revolves around Matt Fowler, a father grappling with the grief of losing his youngest son, Frank. Frank was murdered by Richard Strout, a man who discovered Frank was having an affair with his estranged wife, Mary Ann. The narrative opens with the aftermath of Frank's funeral, immediately immersing the reader in a scene of profound sorrow and loss. Through Dubus’ skillful use of flashbacks, the reader learns about the events leading up to Frank’s death and the impact it has on his family, particularly on Matt and his wife, Ruth.

Dubus meticulously constructs the emotional landscape of his characters. Matt Fowler is depicted as a loving father who is struggling to come to terms with his son's death. His wife, Ruth, is engulfed in a similar sorrow, but her grief is tinged with a burning desire for justice. The juxtaposition of Matt’s subdued pain and Ruth’s overt anguish highlights the different facets of their shared grief. The author effectively uses these contrasting emotions to portray the complexity of human reactions to tragedy.

Richard Strout, the antagonist, is a character who evokes both anger and pity. While his crime is abhorrent, Dubus paints him as a flawed human rather than a mere villain. Strout's motivations are rooted in jealousy and possessiveness, emotions that, while not justifiable, are relatable. This nuanced portrayal challenges the reader to consider the broader implications of revenge and the moral ambiguity inherent in acts of retribution.

The central theme of "Killings" is the moral and emotional consequences of seeking vengeance. Matt Fowler’s decision to take the law into his own hands is driven by a complex interplay of grief, anger, and a perceived duty to his deceased son. In collusion with his friend Willis, Matt meticulously plans and executes the murder of Richard Strout. The act is portrayed not as a moment of triumph, but as a somber and morally fraught undertaking. Dubus does not present Matt’s actions as just; rather, he invites the reader to grapple with the ethical dilemmas they pose.

The story’s climax, where Matt and Willis carry out their plan, is both tense and tragic. The meticulous detail with which Dubus describes the act of killing underscores the gravity of what Matt is doing. The physical and emotional toll on Matt is palpable, and the reader is left to ponder the true cost of vengeance. By the end of the story, it is clear that the act of killing Strout has not brought the closure or peace that Matt and Ruth sought. Instead, it has compounded their suffering, adding the weight of moral guilt to their already heavy burden of grief.

Dubus’ use of a third-person limited point of view allows the reader to closely follow Matt’s internal struggles while maintaining a degree of narrative distance. This perspective is crucial in conveying the complexity of Matt’s emotions and the moral ambiguity of his actions. The author’s concise and evocative prose further enhances the story’s emotional impact, making "Killings" a powerful meditation on the human capacity for violence and the devastating effects of loss.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, "Killings" by Andre Dubus is a masterful exploration of grief, revenge, and moral complexity. Through the harrowing experiences of Matt Fowler and his family, Dubus delves into the dark recesses of the human psyche, challenging readers to confront their own notions of justice and retribution. The story’s nuanced characters, evocative prose, and ethical depth make it a poignant and thought-provoking piece of literature. Ultimately, "Killings" serves as a somber reminder of the heavy toll that vengeance exacts on those who seek it, leaving them more broken and bereft than before.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

A Summary and Analysis of “Killings” by Andre Dubus. (2024, Jun 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-summary-and-analysis-of-killings-by-andre-dubus/
“A Summary and Analysis of “Killings” by Andre Dubus.” GradesFixer, 07 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-summary-and-analysis-of-killings-by-andre-dubus/
A Summary and Analysis of “Killings” by Andre Dubus. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-summary-and-analysis-of-killings-by-andre-dubus/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
A Summary and Analysis of “Killings” by Andre Dubus [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 07 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-summary-and-analysis-of-killings-by-andre-dubus/
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