The Curse by Andre Dubus

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“The Curse” by Andre Dubus is about Mitchell Hayes, a forty-nine year old bartender who is witness to a rape. The rape occurs right before closing when five bikers rape a young woman while holding Mitchell at bay. After the rape, Mitchell is distraught over his decision of not making a stronger attempt to help the girl. Police, family and friends try to comfort Mitchell by telling him he made the right decision. However, he continues to feel guilt and self-doubt over whether or not he could have done more in order to prevent the rape from occurring. The central idea is that man is responsible for defining his own sense of honor. A clear choice between right and wrong does not always exist. The safest decision is not always the easiest to live with. What Dubus seems to be commenting on is the transformation of man as he grows older. At an older age, you learn to accept things you cannot change. The main character is Mitchell. He is round and dynamic. He is round because the story revolves around him. His thoughts and actions are crucial to the story and are described in great detail. He is dynamic because he changes from a relatively carefree, self-assured man into an impetuous man who feels old and becomes consumed with guilt. After witnessing the rape: “He did not know what it was like to be very old … but he assumed it was like this: fatigue beyond relieving by rest, by sleep.” Dubus uses all three methods of indirect characterization in describing Mitchell; he uses words, actions, and thoughts. An example of his words is “I should have stopped it. I think I could have stopped it.” An example of his actions comes after the bikers had left the rape scene, “Then he picked up her sneakers from the floor and placed them beside her and squatted near her face….” An example of his thoughts comes after the bikers leave, “He wanted to speak to her and touch her, hold a hand or press...
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