Humanitarian / Literature Essay

Killings by Andre Dubus

"Killings" by Andre Dubus was published in 1979. The book revolves around a basic aspect of man which involves morality, murder and revenge. The book showed how a man can be driven into activities against his moral principles to avenge a personal loss, to sate personal grief.

"Killings" by Andre Dubus was set in the town of Massachusetts in August. The book opened the burial of a twenty-one-year-old the least son of Matt Fowler named Frank Fowler. The event around this burial, the overwhelming grief of the father and the mother, the anger in which Steve Fowler, the brother of Frank, boiled through set the pace of the story.

With this emotional fusion, the psychology of the characters was unveiled. Knowing that love can take varied forms of expression in man, the loss of such love can also be dynamic. It is in the pain of burying a young boy that the story was set.

Steve Fowler said “I should kill him” but his father didn’t correct him, nor did his mother. Instead, “Ruth’s arm, linked with Matt’s tightened…”

Trauma is associated with the book. When Matt Fowler went to visit his friend, Willis Trottier, he told him of the mental stress the death of Frank has brought to Ruth, his wife. Ruth walks Sunnyhurst Street to buy a cigarette, and she sees the killer of his child. Without his feeling of remorse. Without a bit of remorse.

This made her stay indoor sometimes. Matt realizing the failure of the law, he thought he could take laws into his hands. With this, the internal struggle is reflected in man’s ability to exhibit one of the cruelest human acts as driven by emotional grief and torment.

Richard Strout, twenty-six years old is revealed as the killer of Frank Fowler. With Matt’s anger, he plans to kill Richard but his sense of morality restrained him. However, as he continued to express how his wife could not go out anymore, his anger exacerbated.

He has taken a 38, a gun, which he has had for years. Knowing the Richard Strout often spend late nights drinking at Trottier’s diner, he planned to kidnap him and kill him. However, even in the conversation with Willis, his friend, the persistence of his morality was evident as he said “…in case I see him, and there’s some kind of situation… where he did something to me. Where I could not get away with it.”

This simply means he doesn’t want to kill Strout except it was for self-defense. This lingering thought is also influenced by his sense of morality without which he would not hesitate.

It was on a Saturday in September that he did this. Before the period of Strout’s kidnap, the event around Frank's death was told. He had been shot in front of the other boys in the sitting room by Richard Strout. It was two bullets in Frank’s chest and one bullet in his face through Strout’s 9 mm automatic.

Knowing this, Andre Dubus wrote that Matt has lost a son in no way a father had expected to lose his son. This emotional connection is, again, aching to the tooth. The story cannot be detached from this emotion.

Matt had been a fearful father who had always thought his children would drown when they were young at the start of each summer. He was only relieved when he got home to meet his children there. The author wrote that “…his relief was his only acknowledgment of his fear, which he never spoke of, and which he controlled with his heart.”

This could be simply interpreted to mean that he doesn't want to be seen as a weak man, hence, he hid his fear for his children's safety. However, with the murder of his Frank, he felt that “…all the fears he had borne … and all the grief he was afraid of, had backed up like a huge wave and stuck him … and swept him out of the sea.”

Every day, in his soul, he shot Richard Strout in his face. But although, while he thinks he has killed Strout, his wife supposed easiness remained as she “…kept seeing him.”

On the September night when the last drinkers left, Strout’s car was seen beside Willis, and he was attacked. He was told to go back into his car with a gun pointed into his face. Fowler sat behind him and instructed him to drive slowly while he points the gun at his head. Strout obeyed.

While they drive, the anxiety of Matt was shown as he was said to sweat in his glove. Strout broke the silence when he said Frank was “…making it with my wife.” This tells the reader that Richard had murdered as moved by passion for his wife whose intimacy with Frank provoked him.

Matt shuts him up and told him to drive to his house where he orders him to pack his clothes in a suitcase. Matt tells him he will take him away, to the airport, and he will fly to another country. This is because he cannot bear his wife living through the stress of seeing Richard every day, as the killer of her son who will be granted bail by the law.

He ordered him to drive to an abandoned area where Richard is supposed to be met with people who will arrange his flight. At this juncture, he saw no one. Richard says it’s better if he goes to jail. He says he’ll go to jail for 20 years and when he gets back, he’ll be old already, he will be 46.

But Matt was hell-bent on getting rid of him as he says Richard’s forty-six years old post-prison term will make him 9 years younger as he, Matt. However, while Matt thinks of having his lie of freeing Richard as true. That is, his lie of buying him a ticket and have him skip jail, he thinks about having Strout in Montana where he would love a girl. But he doesn’t want this as it further bugs him.

At New Hampshire where Richard had been ordered to park his car. The gun kicked in Matt Fowler’s hand and the “shot surrounded him, isolated him… Richard Strout squirming on his belly.”

He had shot Strout in the leg but went behind his head and shoot him again.

Haunted by the guilt of what he has done, he sought to relive the death of Strout. He imagined that he had shot him once, only in the leg, and that the other shot in Strout’s head was shot at someone else who had been watching the scene.

But this isn’t true. Matt had committed murder, and he feels no different from Strout. Matt with Willis had taken his body to the woods where a grave had been dug. They had tossed his body into it.

Matt would live in his sin, knowing that the consciousness of his morality dawns on his too late. In his home with his wifeKillings by Andre Dubus, his wife held him as he “…shuddered with a sob that he kept silent in his heart.”

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