"Killings" by Andre Dubus

Taylor Nelms
Amy Riddell
An analysis of the themes in the short story “Killings” by Andre Dubus
In “Killings” by Andre Dubus, Matt Fowler’s son, Frank, is murdered by Richard Strout. The murder had a significant emotional effect on the family, especially Matt’s wife Ruth. Richard is out on bail and is seen around town frequently by Ruth. Ruth can’t stand to see her son’s murderer a free man so she tells her husband about her feelings seeking relief from them. Ruth’s unhappiness leads Matt to kill Richard Strout. The story reflects the desperate attempt of a father to find justice for the crime committed against his family. The short story “Killings” highlights the themes of justice and revenge and how one doesn’t come with another.
Through the plot of “Killings” it is extremely clear that Dubus has something to say about justice and revenge. Ruth is portrayed to be a woman mourning the death of her son, but deep down she seeks revenge for the pain Richard has causes her. There is no greater pain than losing a child to someone with no worth. Ruth believes that revenge, which to her is killing Richard Strout, will justify things. She manipulates her husband by constantly reminding him and crying to him about how she cannot deal with seeing Richard around town which forces him and his friend Willis to devise a plan to take Richard out in exchange for his wife’s happiness. In paragraph 17 Matt says “I’ve got a .38 I’ve had for years, I take it to the store now… she knows I started carrying it after the first time she saw him in town. She knows it’s in case I see him and there’s some kind of situation”, this indicates that not only revenge is to be sought out, but also the means by which Matt Fowler plans to exact his vengeance without any thought of future consequences.
He waits outside of the bar with Willis where he knows Richard Strout is and then their plan comes into play and they take Strout out in the middle of the woods and shoot...

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