“Summary and Analysis of Killings by Andre Dubus”
Murder, a rightfully known act of immorality is proven to be justifiable in Andre Dubus’s “Killings”. The alluring temptations of vengeance, too strong for Matt Fowler to push aside, were eventually accepted. Fowler commits the exact same crime as his son’s killer, both murders seek out revenge, however for different reasons. Fowler kills for the sake of his wife, he grieves seeing her in agony and he himself is in anguish knowing his son’s killer is free. Richard Strout acted out upon jealousy and anger, which ultimately ended in his demise, a suffering much worse than living with guilt. The distinction in these two killers morality is what determines the difference in their suffering. Richard Strout commits a crime of passion: he murders the man who is having an affair with his estranged wife. He is incensed when he finds out that his wife was seeing another man while the divorce is still pending. After the killing he feels to be quite justified and do not feel a bit of remorse of what he has done. He never seems to mind the consequences but continue the life he lives. Strout is depicted in the short story as an amoral and man of passion. Matt Fowler is a man of great moral fortitude. He is faced with the questions of morality when his son is murdered, and seeing his wife suffering for the loss of their son he is motivated by private revenge on the part of the child, and protection for the safety of his wife. Fowler performed the act with his friend Willis Trottier, and they both killed Strout. Instead of feeling a sense of satisfaction and justification over his son’s death he is overcome with a profound sense of isolation. His empathy towards his wife is obvious as he talks to his companion Willis, “She sees him all the time. It makes her cry.” His sympathy being expressed about his wife emotional trauma characterizes his nobleness. His desire for revenge isn’t solely his. Another identifier of Fowler’s superior morality is his persistent battle with his conscience when executing Strout’s murder. He limited eye contact and conversation, only being stern when needing to be, and even with an act of aggression it still was evident of his apprehension, “He pointed the cocked revolver at Stout’s face. The barrel trembled but not much, not as much as expected.” As the night continued his guilt progressed, his body language was now not even able to mask his shame, “Matt’s body sagged, going limp with his spirit and its new and false bound with Strout, the hope his lie had given Strout.” The evidence of Fowler’s remorse for lying to his son’s killer shows how sorry he is already feeling about his premeditated plan for murder. The title itself defines the whole story. Revenge is hinted at right at the beginning of the story. The writer uses the third person point of view, where the reader is able to see the family’s ways of coping through the loss. Dubus provide a conventional plot pattern where the characters are confronted with a problem, reached into the climax then finally came to a resolution in the end. Dubus adds in flashbacks so that the reader can fully understand the actions and behaviors of the characters. Matt Fowler and Richard Strout are both the murderers and victims of the story. The writer wanted to set the mood at the start of the story – a mother with a broken heart and the father who is torn between contemplating crime and doing what is morally right. The story began to get a little predictable in the rising action but as the plot thickened Matt Fowler begins to question the plan on how Robert could be taken care of. The couple decided to take revenge on their own hands on the basis they are concerned that the system will not punish Strout enough. After murdering Strout and burying the body, Matt returns home. Ruth is aware of what Matt has done, and is relieved and desirous of her husband after learning of the revenge. But Matt became a different person. Andre Dubus uses symbolism to describe the person’s confrontation with morality has to deal with hoping to end his family’s suffering and his own internal struggles to stop. The author uses the eye as a symbol of showing love and sympathy, anger and pain. In popular movies, the main characters who are wronged or have their family killed, money and property are taken away shot, stab, massacre those who injure them or take law into their own hands and the watchers feel that the justice has been done. What makes Matt Fowler different from revenge heroes portrayed in film is he knows that killing Richard is morally wrong. After Matt finally accomplishes his goal of killing Strout, his own internal struggles escalates and couldn’t find satisfaction so he went to isolation, cut out from his family, time and history. He could not tell to his children what he did to Richard, thus he will continue to live in pain. Matt is a sympathetic character, completely blameless with the events in the story until his son was killed.