A Portrait of a Killer

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The Slavenka Drakulic essay “He Would Never Hurt a Fly” is about a young man named Goran Jelisic, a Bosian Serb, who is on trial for executing thirteen prisoners in a Breko police station and Luka prison camp in 1992. Drakulic portrays Jelisic as a handsome young man with a “serene face, lively eyes, and [a] big reassuring grin… the kind of person who would give up his seat, on a street car, for an invalid to sit down (1117). Drakulic is surprised that the man with such boyish features could be a killer. The author seems obsessed with Goran Jelisic, repeatedly describing him as a handsome man and not understanding how he could be accused of this crime. She writes “Good looking people are good and ugly people are mean” (1117). She bases Jelisic character on his outward appearances. Throughout the essay, the author is sympathetic and motherly toward Jelisic. She is baffled that a young man, the same age as her daughter, could become a mass murderer and subsequently blames herself as well as her generation for creating a society that produces a killer like Goran Jelisic. In the author’s quest to understand and impute blame, she focuses on Jelisic’s love of fishing (1119). Drakulic is “wearing blinders” when she write about Jelisic. Even though fishing is a form of execution, she does not recognize repeating throughout the entire essay how Jelisic loves fishing. He loved to compete with the fishing teams and have a drink with his pals, but his favorite past time was to fish alone. He knew all the good spots, and he loved it because it took him away from his daily life. Drakulic portrays Jelisic as a loner, someone who did not see himself as important, and the river did not judge him (1119). She feels sorry for him because he was not particularly good at anything but fishing. She describes fishing as a sport for people who are patient and not aggressive or nervous; there is no way Jelisic could be forceful because he was adept at fishing. She does...
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