Killings by Andre Dubus

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“Killings” by Andre Dubus is a short story about a father who seeks out vengeance for the murder of his twenty-one year old son only to learn that revenge will only make things worse. The father, Matt Fowler, is haunted by the tragedy that has befallen his youngest son. Retribution is a common human desire because people feel that it offers the truest form of justice; however, this action is against the law of the land and is thought of as reckless to pursue. The author uses foreshadowing, imagery, and dialogue to illustrate a tone of prudence when thinking of taking vengeance into one’s own hand. In the story the literary element of foreshadowing is used. The desire to get even is an emotion that is felt by all people and is not biased as to who feels it. That desire is displayed at the beginning of the story. This is shown when the author writes, “Matt’s older son, Steve, turned to him as the family left the grave and walked between their friends, and said: ‘I should kill him’” (1203). This ominous statement shows how the feeling of revenge causes the character to not think of the consequences when pursuing vengeance for what is thought of as true justice. The writer further establishes how the feeling of retribution clouds cautious thinking through foreshadowing when he writes, “‘I’ve got a .38 I’ve had for years, I take it to the store now…She knows I started carrying it after the first time she saw him in town. She knows it’s in case I see him and there’s some kind of situation.’” (1204). This indicates that not only is revenge to be sought out but also the means by which Matt Fowler plans to exact his vengeance without any thought of consequence. The author’s use of imagery creates a picture of how the father’s vengeance for his son’s murder takes place when Matt waits on the murderer to get off of work so that he can take the killer and his car back to the killer’s house. The author describes the scene with vivid detail when he...
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