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Dubus Killings Essay

Dubus is a well-respected master of the short story form. "Killings" marked an early note in a long career of consistently well-developed characters and a direct language that stirs readers.

The bereaved father in "Killings" draws both horror and compassion from the reader. Matt's sense of parenthood and love for his wife present him as the ideal father and husband. The fact that he can commit murder is unbelievable. Dubus fills in another dimension of the drama genre: killing for revenge is as an age-old story, from Cain and Able to Greek and Roman tragedies. It is part of human history and human nature. Dubus recaptures that sense in a post-modern town in America in the twentieth century.

Joshua Bodwell praises Dubus, saying that he writes with a delicate power that many authors lack. He brushes over sentiment and offers an opportunity to view every character, even the most heinous, with a sliver of dignity. For example, Richard occupies a home that is clean, neat, and tidy—and yet he commits murder in front of his own children.

Dubus characters are memorable because they are weak, broken, and strong-willed. Matt is a tragic character because of his love for his wife and family. In a sense, he has no choice. He must avenge the death of his son and ease his family's pain. On moral issues, Ruth and Matt show signs that they want to be good people when they attempt to understand Mary Ann. They offer concessions for her life: her previous marriage and her age are not problems, they say. Ruth wants to show she has a generous heart when she comments that Mary Ann is embarrassed to bring her children to their house. However, their attitudes may truly be too rigid to fit Mary Ann into their lives. This is a delicate balance that Dubus is presenting. As the Boston Herald noted about Dubus, “he separates the drama from the melodrama.”

Dubus’s characters are also a complex mix of action and constraint with...

(The entire section is 629 words.)

Essay Theme Analysis of Killings by Andre Dubus

741 Words3 Pages

“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…show more content…

Strout may have been a killer, but he was still a human being, knowledge that Matt forced himself to forget. Matt begins to identify with the forces that took his son’s life – murder. He and Trottier planned and executed the murder of Strout not only to avenge Frank’s death, but also to protect his family. Dubus tells the readers how Ruth suffered every time she went into town and would see Strout on the streets or in a store. He wrote, “Ruth sees him… She can’t even go out for cigarettes and aspirin. It’s killing her.” (108) and “It’s the trial. We can’t go through that, my wife and me…” (116). Ruth’s suffering was Matt’s motivation to protect his family. Matt could no longer handle seeing Ruth’s life become shattered by Frank’s murder and her inability to deal with the loss. This was Matt’s final deciding factor to bring forth an end to their suffering by killing Strout. There is no doubt in the readers minds that Strout is guilty of murdering Frank Fowler, but that does not change the overwhelming anguish and guilt that is felt by Matt after he shoots Strout. As Matt had led Strout through his house and into the bedroom, he could not help but notice the neatness of the house or the picture of Mary Ann and the boys on the wall down the hallway. Matt began to make a brief connection to the person who was standing before him; a connection that he had to dispose of quickly. After the murder, Matt is lying in bed thinking about Strout’s

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