Killings by Andre Dubus Essay
“Killings,” just like any other short story, provides a conventional plot pattern where the characters are confronted with a problem and led into a climax then reach a resolution at the end of the story. Though conventional and simple, this kind of approach in writing a short story makes any kind of reader easily understand and follow the story. Andre Dubus, the story’s writer, also incorporates flashbacks as an important tool to fully understand the background of the characters and their very humane nature. The story focuses on the character of Matt Fowler and Richard Strout as both killers and victims.They are both wounded and weak, and they demand compassion and understanding since they are human, just like any body else.
The writer seeks to portray the situation and motivations of both the characters towards their actions since he gives both the characters benefit of the doubt and their motivation for committing murder. The climax or the central peak of Andre Dubus’s “`Killings” is effectively foreshadowed that confronts the dark side of human beings faced with pressure and emotions because of unacceptance and loss.It illustrates human imperfections which also suggest that everyone is capable of both good and cruelty. The striking title itself sets the mood of the plot that leaves much suspense in the readers’ mind. The plot and characters’ background, as well as the use of revolver as a significant symbolism, make the story conventional in a way that one can effectively predict the story’s climax.
The love that a parent feels for a child is indescribable that calls for a total responsibility. A mother, Ruth Fowler, and a father, Matt Fowler, are faced with a severe denial towards the tragic death of their son, Frank Fowler.Fowler’s son, Frank, was killed by Richard Strout, a jealous husband who hates the fact that his estranged wife is involved in a new relationship with a lover much younger than her. Frank was the lover of Mary Ann Strout, ex-wife of Richard Strout.
Meanwhile, the Fowlers cannot accept the fact that a murderer could be out of jail, free and confidently walking the streets. Richard was released from jail because the district attorney cannot find enough evidence to declare Richard as a guilty suspect. This causes Matt and his family intense emotional struggle and pain.Unable to bear any longer seeing his wife overwhelmed with grief for losing their son, Matt takes justice into his own hands. He avenges the murder of his son Frank by killing the man that murdered him without considering the consequences and the societal standards of justice. The story basically demonstrates how revenge dominates or overpowers all logic and human’s moral sense of right and wrong.
It also poses the question whether there is a moral ground or consideration that gives an individual the right to kill another.The character of Matt Fowler satisfies the standards of an ideal father and husband. He is content with his life blessed with three children and a loving wife. He owns women’s clothing store and does well both at work and at home.
He has a good and strong relationship with his children, especially with the youngest Frank. However, the dark side of his nature is revealed when Frank was murdered and justice was not served. Matt punishes the villain instead in a way that he believes is appropriate for the crime that Richard committed, claiming his act as a justifiable murder.While the law does not tolerate any kind of murder, whatever the circumstances may be, the author of this story introduces the emotions behind the violence and seeks to depict human nature and their tendencies when their happiness or security is destroyed. This is show in the intense love that overwhelmed both Matt and Richard beyond logic and reasoning.
Through this story, Dubus leaves the readers with an ethical dilemma of contemplating whether murder can be justified or considered.Matt’s extreme love for his wife Mary Ann manifested every now and then in the story also illustrates that the climax of the story is effectively foreshadowed. It is predictable that Matt is capable of murder because he desires to make life easier for Ruth and free her from pain and sorrow. Moreover, Matt repeatedly mentions that he should kill Strout but is just as frequently uncertain and disturbed on this notion. Matt’s sense of right and wrong still pervades at some point, but he is unable to stand the grief of his wife.Thinking he could get away with murder, Matt eventually starts to carry his 38 revolver to the store just in case he runs into Strout.
The inner conflict that represents the Fowlers’ emotions towards Frank’s murder and outer conflict that represents Strout as a free man are just hard to contain for Matt which greatly affects his psychological aspects. His constant daydreaming of how to acquire justice arouses in him the desire for vengeance. In the story, Dubus reveals the extent of human tendencies.He illustrates how strong emotions such as jealousy, passion, and love cloud one’s sense of reasoning and morality.
As a result of troubled life and his act of premeditated murder, Matt isolated himself from the society. Thus, although the writer presents the motivations of human violence, he also reveals its destructive effects. Nevertheless, the emotions illustrated in the short story are very human. In addition, just like any other writer, Dubus incorporated literary elements to let the readers predict and understand as early as possible the story’s main twist which is the killings motivated by revenge.