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Revenge Is A Viscous Circle

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“Killings”, by Andre Dubus, is a story that revolves around the central theme of revenge. The reader is plunged into a father’s struggle to cope with his son’s death and on the actions he takes as a result. The author manages to demonstrate, through two intertwined characters and deaths how revenge in most cases leaves a bitter aftertaste by not resolving the initial issue, and by making the situation worse than what it already was.

Indeed, the main theme is hinted at right at the begin-ning of the story, while the reader is still not yet famil-iar with the time or spatial elements of the story. On line four Steve, the brother of the deceased boy, says out loud at the funeral “I should kill him”. The reader at this point is not aware of whom or what Steve is talking about yet gets a sense of what might occur further into the story, also helped by the title itself “Killings”. A few paragraphs later, again the reader gets a hint of what might happen when the Matt says to his friend Willis: “I’ve got a .38 I’ve had for years, I take it to the store now. I tell Ruth it’s for the night deposits. I tell her things have changed: we got junkies here now too. Lots of people without jobs. She knows though”. It is in the final part of comment in which the hint is dissimulated, for the reader can again assume that Matt has the intention of killing his son’s murderer.

The story proceeds to give a great amount of detailed information about what happened prior to the first assassi-nation; what events led Richard Strout to pre-meditatively murder Frank, Matt’s son. This is how the reader learns that the story is not only about the revenge that Matt takes on Strout, but also that Strout himself murders Frank in an act of revenge. Indeed, although Strout was engaged in a divorce procedure with his wife Mary Ann, she was hav-ing an affair with Frank. To this effect Strout decides to murder Frank as an act of revenge, because he was “making it” to his wife, as he later explains to Matt. Therefore it is clear that the act of revenge that Strout takes on Frank might have been self-gratifying at first, but in reality it did not solve his broken relationship with Mary Ann, and to the contrary he would have to face a court and then life behind bars. What he did not know however was that as a di-rect consequence he would eventually lose his life to an-other act of revenge, that of Frank’s father Matt.

Matt’s only viable option for closure in his eyes is to eliminate Strout all together, as he and more over his wife cannot stand seeing their son’s murderer in town every so often. Also as a fatherly figure, Matt feels it necessary to take care of the problem for his other



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