Losing Matt Shepard Analysis

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David Mattera
Professor Boemo
Expository Writing 101: LP
December 2, 2008
The Complexity of Simply Dying

At first glance, the concept of death seems simple; one tries to live as long as possible, and when the time comes, he goes. However, there is much more to it than that. There is everything that leads to a person’s death and there is the aftermath. In her article “Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder,” Beth Loffreda talks about the outcome of a gay young man named Matt Shepard being murdered, and how he became lost in the wake of the movement that followed. Similarly, Jon Krakauer retraces the story of a young man named Chris McCandless who died in the Alaskan wilderness in his piece “Into the Wild.” The death of a person can become gradually more complex based on if it was natural, accidental or murder, if it was sudden, or slow, or if it was intentional. These are things that are easy to tell people, but make a big difference in the story. When writing or reading about a person’s death there are certain limits one comes across where it becomes very complicated to get the right story across. There is a great deal of limitation in writing about a person’s death because it is challenging to get all the correct details. Communicating the story of someone’s death can be complicated because many people lack the experiences to understand the events one goes through before dying and the true story often gets obscured by a shroud of drivel.

The problem in assembling all of the facts and details regarding someone’s death lies in the fact that the only person who truly knows all of them is the person who died. The person who died had the best perspective and knew everything that was going on. No one else knows the pain the deceased was experiencing or what was going through his head. Many questions can arise pertaining to how the person ended up in the situation which led to his death. In Matt Shepard’s case, one might question the story behind his homosexuality. It is hard to actually know what caused him to openly share that he was gay, if he expected harsh harassment for it, or if he regretted it. Only Matt can know the full extent of just how horrible the ordeal was for him. In the case of a murder, however, there is a second party who can be questioned for additional information. The problem is that the culprit is not always willing to tell their story, or they will not tell the truth. Never the less, there is still a second set of information available. For example, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney probably had their own story as to why they chose to assault Matt Shepard. The facts become even more challenging when there are no witnesses or any other party who know what happened.

When a person dies alone, there is no one else who knows what went on. Take for example Chris McCandless. He was alone out in the Alaskan wilderness for several months. Nobody knew exactly where he was; let alone what he went through. The closest contact he had was a driver named Gaylord Stuckey who gave him a ride to Fairbanks. He told Stuckey his tentative plans and how he did not even know where he was going. Before saying goodbye, Stuckey “begged and pleaded with him to call his parents” (Krakauer 346). After that the only form of information there is regarding the events leading up to his death is the journal he was keeping in the back of a book. Where his journal cuts out, nobody can really know what was going on, and this leaves a lot of questions open for discussion. It is impossible to know for certain some of the little things like what his thoughts were, how he had planned for his adventure to turn out, or what ideas he had been contemplating. “He said it was something he’d wanted to do since he was little,” but one might assume he had not been planning it since he was little (Krakauer 346). Chris was the only person who knew how much thought he had put into his trip or what went...
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