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Killings

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Killings Analysis
Style and Technique

“Killings,” one of Dubus’s best-known and most respected stories, was the basis for the film In the Bedroom (2001). Although the story revolves around passion and violence, Dubus tells the tale in a flat, calm way. The first two acts of violence are dropped into the story unexpectedly and without emotion. The story opens with Frank’s funeral, then moves on to the conversation between Willis and Matt about how Matt wishes he could kill the man who murdered his son, but the reader does not know who killed Frank, how, or why. Next, in a long descriptive paragraph, Richard is introduced. He is first connected to Frank by the flat opening line of the next paragraph: “One night he beat Frank.” Only then does the reader learn about Mary Ann, and Matt’s and Ruth’s differing feelings about her.
In a lovely, lyrical scene, Mary Ann joins the Fowlers for a barbeque after a day at the beach. Matt’s love for his son is mixed with a wistful attraction to Mary Ann. She is beautiful, but Matt sees in her eyes a sadness and pain that he and his family have been spared, and he wishes he could help and comfort her. The next paragraph starts with, “Richard Strout shot Frank in front of the children.” Such jarring shifts of mood are used to emphasize how quickly life can turn from sunny to violent and how swiftly the good things in life can be taken away.
The story’s point of view is that of the limited omniscient narrator. The reader sees the events through Matt’s eyes only, so Ruth’s and Willis’s roles in the tragedy are only implied. There is little dialogue; instead, Dubus paints vivid descriptions of the small details of life: the sights that the men pass on their way to Richard’s home and to the place of his execution, the way Richard’s socks and underwear are folded in the drawer when Matt makes him pack his suitcase, and Matt’s memory of his children climbing trees.
Killings Setting
"Killings" is set along the dotted landscape of small towns outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Tourism, beaches, Fenway Park, and the woods are tangential to the main storyline and contribute to the tone of the story.
The small town is blue-collar. The children in the story represent steps of advancement in the American dream and upward mobility. Matt Fowler owns a store where he works six days a week, which reflects his hard work and position. His twenty-eight-year-old son Steve works at a branch office of a bank, which suggests some upward mobility. Frank is attending graduate school in economics, but he lives at home and works as a lifeguard. He is saving money to afford his education. Cathleen lives in Syracuse, New York.

The urban environment near Boston plays an integral role in Matt's sense of nostalgia and the values of parenthood. Matt recalls a conversation with Frank on a long night drive to Fenway Park. Matt had ordered tickets and knew they would have time to talk in the car. This conversation is something that Frank had expected from his father; he knew he had questions and concerns about Mary Ann. Matt and Frank talked in the city traffic winding along the Charles River. Dubus writes that the time of day was “blue in the late sun.” This setting was clearly one of Matt’s last beautiful and intimate memories with Frank.
Beachfronts also delineate the blue-collar locals from visiting tourists in the story. Mary Ann meets Frank at the beach. Tourists also come into the area during the summer and fill up the town, and abandon it the rest of the year. Readers get a sense of the seasons as Richard and Matt drive together and Matt notices the Dairy Queen closed until spring and the two lobster restaurants that were crowded all summer and are now closed. Matt is reminiscing in a sense as he rides to commit this murder. He is reviewing the places that are so familiar and comforting to him. Matt sees the short bridge crossing the tidal stream and the moonlit current in the dark. As they leave the bridge, Matt notes the salt marsh on both sides and the tall grass of the marshy east coast.
Matt and Willis also represent being on the road and a break with their small town home. New Hampshire is "the...
Killings Summary
"Killings" by Andre Dubus was first published in The Sewanee Review in 1979. The short story was adapted into a critically acclaimed film titled In the Bedroom in 2001, directed by Todd Field.
"Killings" is set in a blue-collar town in Massachusetts. The story explores the psychology and emotions of a couple after their son, Frank, is murdered. Dubus treats the dark antagonist and murderer, Richard Strout, with small notes of empathy. Dubus provides horrifying detail during the revenge kidnapping of Strout as Matt, Frank's father, walks through the strange and tidy apartment. As a master of the short story craft, Dubus presents this scene with startling incongruity. How does a man who lives in this tidy manner commit such a brutal murder? Dubus brings Strout to a level that is startling: he is an ordinary man who commits an evil act. Who else in the story is capable of such brutality?
Critics note that Dubus’ style is concise, refined, and straight from the heart. Ann Beattie admires Dubus for his attention to female characters—and Dubus delivers a complex character in Ruth, Matt’s wife. The interactions between Ruth and Matt are often surprising. The situations engulf them and become larger than who they are.

Critics note that Dubus does not simply write about family: he writes well about the point of view within an individual family. He is inside the family. The voices of mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, husbands and wives offer multiple perspectives in the action—and they inevitably get entangled. Dubus told The Yale Review that his job was to form the words on the page as his characters performed their acts. In "Killings," the actions are an affront to the reader and the words only serve to humanize their tragic choices and lives
Killings Characters
Cathleen Fowler
She is the middle child of Matt and Ruth Fowler. She is married and lives in Syracuse. She attends the funeral for Frank and returns to her home with her husband.
Frank Fowler
Frank is the son of Matt and Ruth Fowler. He is a graduate student in economics at a local university. He is dating Mary Ann Strout and is four years her junior. Frank offers a light-heartedness when talking with his father about the increasing tension between himself, Richard, and Mary Ann. He is murdered at Mary Ann’s home with her two sons present. Richard Strout shoots him in the chest and in the face.
Matt Fowler
Matt is a store owner in a small town in Massachusetts. He is Ruth’s husband and the father of Frank, Steve, and Cathleen. Matt feels increasing pressure to respond to Frank’s murder. He and his wife are frustrated by the presence of Richard Strout when they see him on their small town streets as he is out on bail.
Ruth Fowler
She is Matt’s wife and the mother of Frank, Steve, and Cathleen. Ruth shares her deep fears over Frank’s relationship with Mary Ann. She also shows considerable anguish as they await the trial for Richard Strout.
Steve Fowler
He is the twenty-eight-year-old son of Matt and Ruth Fowler. He is married and lives in Baltimore where he manages the branch office of a bank. At the funeral, in reference to Richard Strout, Steve says, “I should kill him.”
Richard Strout
Richard is a twenty-six-year-old man living in the same area as the Fowlers. He was a high school athlete who won a football scholarship to the University of Massachusetts. After quitting college just before being expelled due to poor grades, Richard returns to his small town and works as a bartender. He had rejected an opportunity to follow in his father’s construction business, and he...
Summary and Analysis of Killings by Andre Dubus
The story “The Killings”, written by Andre Dubus, is about the crimes committed by the two characters, Richard Strout and Matt Fowler. A short story about father’s love for his son to exact revenge by killing the murderer, but soon is caught up with the action that lead to his own destruction.
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.
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 desirious of her husband after learning of the revenge. But Matt became a different person (Dubus, 1979) (Johnson, 2011).
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. Dubus 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.
“Killings” by Andre Dubus
Andre Dubus wrote his short story “Killings” in 3rd person omniscient point of view. Frank Fowler’s story is being told in “Killings” of how his life was taken out of jealousy and spite. “Killings” leaves you open to the fact that there is more than one person murdered. Dubus engages between Matt Fowler, Frank’s father, and Richard Strout, Frank’s murderer.
Matt Fowler was forced to bury his 21 year old son, Frank. Matt killed Richard out of the love for Frank. Matt’s biggest longing was to get revenge on Richard. Not only was Matt upset with the murder of his son, but he was also upset with the fact that Richard was granted a bail. His presence made coping tougher for both Matt and Ruth. Seeing Strout free not only sharpened the pains of losing their son, but it also strengthened the eagerness of revenge. Matt and his best friend Willis Trottier made a plan to kill Richard by discussing the consequences. They felt due to the lack of trust in the justice system, they could get away with the crime, but that backfired on them.
Richard Strout shot Frank in front of his two boys. Richard’s wife, Mary Ann was Frank’s girlfriend. Mary Ann had filed a divorce on Richard, but Richard didn’t approve of it. Richard had a very quick temper and wasn’t too happy to find out Mary Ann had moved on without making the divorce official.
Even though Matt killed out of love and the revenge for his son, his crime was still wrong, Richard’s crime was wrong too of course, but like Frank, Richard was somebody’s son, brother, or a friend. Yes, Matt knew better, but he decided to follow his heart and not his head. Richard was just as ordinary as Matt except he had power over Matt because Richard first screwed up Matt’s life. Richard affected many lives, Matt, Ruth, Mary Ann, and Frank’s two boys. He wasn’t thinking, he was just consumed with helplessness and depression over the loss of Mary Ann. Matt’s reason for murder is understandable, I don’t agree with his choice, but I understand why he made it. Murder is murder no matter if he gained the strength to do it with his heart or his mind. (Stevens).
No matter what reason a person may have, when a person kills another in cold blood a crime of murder is committed. Murderers should be punished. The law does not inquire the reasons for committing the crime. The law is not concerned to find out the reason that could have driven a person to commit the crime of murder. The crime Matt committed against Richard is essentially the same as the crime Richard committed against Frank. Both of them should be punished, and there is no justification for that. (Stevens).
Summary and Analysis of "Killings" by Andre Dubus
“Killings” is a short tale written by Andre Dubus in 1979 and was first published in The Sewanee Review. The story was later adapted by film director Todd Field in the 2001 movie entitled In the Bedroom, a highly acclaimed movie by the Academy Awards. The story revolved on love, murder, revenge and morality.
The story sets in a small town somewhere in Massachusetts one August morning with the burial of a 21 year old Economic graduate Frank Fowler, Ruth and Matt’s youngest son. Along to grief with the couple were their two other children – Steve, oldest and Cathleen, the second among the brood.
Richard Strout, a 26 year old former football scholar dropout who has worked as a bartender, shot Frank one Saturday night in September right in front of his two sons.
Strout was known to many as the spoiled and hot-tempered guy. It was this very same attitude that caused his wife of 6 years, Mary Ann, to file for divorce.
Mary Ann was the girlfriend Frank had before his death. The two met in Salisbury beach where the latter worked as a lifeguard. Their romance blossomed while she was in the process of the divorce. Frank’s mother, Ruth, disagreed to the relationship. She never wanted Mary Ann for her son for a number of reasons: first, she had a history of playing around, second, the divorce was not finalized yet, third, she had kids and lastly, she was older than him. Matt, on the other hand, being a protective father that he was tried to understand his son and weighs the balance between his wife and son. He accepted Mary Ann and welcomed her into the family. Unfortunately, this was not the same case with Strout. Whether be it for his pride or love for Mary Ann that forced him to commit murder, it was very clear that he never approved of the divorce.
The tragedy has not left the Fowlers since then. Conflicts arose when Strout was granted a bail for which his presence made coping tougher for both Matt and Ruth. Strout was seen all over town living a normal life after the crime. Seeing him not only sharpened the pains of losing their son but it strengthened the eagerness of revenge.
Matt and Ruth’s suffering grew with each passing day. To end such suffering, Matt premeditated on killing Strout with the help of his friend, Willis Trottier. Willis, a short silver-haired man, was a restaurant and bar owner who shared Matt’s sentiments. Being a good friend that he is, he felt for Matt. Together they consummated a crime.
Dubus was able to present the story in a very vivid manner. He was able to showcase conflict of emotions in an orderly way.
The crime committed by Matt to overcome his ill feelings maybe justifiable. There is no greater pain than losing a child to someone with no worth. It is more unacceptable seeing the antagonist out in the open and free while justice was not fully served yet. But then again, we cannot correct a mistake by another mistake. It’s not always right to take the law into your own hands. Avenging may make things worse in the future. In this case, once authorities discovered Strout’s murder, they will only point at one suspect, the one with the strongest motive. That will make the struggle for the Fowlers more gruesome.
Like the saying goes, ‘to err is human, to forgive divine. Sometimes we have to go over the limits of human nature to put things in its proper perspective. It might take time, but justice will be served.

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..."Killings" by Andre Dubus: The Social Construction of Masculinity. When we think of a man we usually think of a strong, hardworking, protective person. A provider for his family and loved ones. Society has set this image in our heads since the beginning of time. Men worked the farms and provided food for his family, while the wives took care of the children and the house. We know that men do get emotional, and they tend to keep it all internal and not show their weakness because it isn't part of the masculine image. Men aren't supposed to cry or be depressed, they're supposed to be tough and strong. This is the image we have come to know as masculinity. However Matt Fowler is somewhat of both Masculine and non masculine. He is described as a protective father, and a caring husband who provided for his family. He plays his parts that he is supposed to and fills his roles within his family. However on the inside he is dealing with emotions from his sons death that make him seem like a mess, and takes responsibility for ending his families grief. I believe that Matt Fowlers character both supports and negates the social construction of masculinity. So as a male I understand the emotions we go through, and brought up by my father I automatically accepted the gender role of a man. I understand Matt's need to keep his emotions to himself. As a man you don't want to let your emotions show because it makes you look weak. "he neglected his own objections…so that as he spoke to......

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Killing

...EUTHANSIA ESSAY To kill somebody you love because they are suffering from a disease or to let them live and suffer horribly every day? That is one of the hardest experiences somebody can ever go through. Personally I pray that I will never have to go through such a tough choice. If you kill them, you have to live with that on your conscious for the rest of your life. But, if you let them live, you have to watch them suffer and struggle every day just to live to the next day. “Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking.” (A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia). Tracy Latimer was only 12 years old when she suffered from Cerebral Palsy. She couldn’t move, hear, see, or anything. She was basically a human vegetable. Her father, Robert, was supposed to take her to get an operation done. Instead, he locked her in the car and let it run, which eventually led her to die from carbon monoxide poisoning. He was convicted of second degree murder and was given a 10 year sentence. Did Robert Latimer do the right thing? Should he be looked at as a danger to society and a murderer? Or should people look at him as somebody that saved his daughters life? Yes, Robert Latimer is unquestionably a murderer. He took away the life of an innocent 12 year old girl who did not do anything wrong in her life. She was not a threat to anybody. All she did was take up air. She couldn’t...

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Killing

...Exercises Articles Articles: a/an PEG 1-4 Insert a or an if necessary. 1 My neighbour is . . . photographer; let's ask him for . . . advice about colour films. 2 We had . . . fish and . . . chips for . . . lunch. ~ That doesn't sound . . . very interesting lunch. 3 I had . . . very bad night; I didn't sleep . . . wink. 4 He is . . . vegetarian; you won't get . . . meat at his house. He'll give you . . . nut cutlet. ~Last time I had . . . nut cutlet I had . . . indigestion. 5 . . . travel agent would give you . . . information about . . . hotels. 6 We'd better go by . . . taxi—if we can get . . . taxi at such . . . hour as 2 a.m. 7 . . . person who suffers from . . . claustrophobia has . . . dread of being confined in . . . small space, and would always prefer . . . stairs to . . . lift. 8 Do you take . . . sugar in . . . coffee? ~ I used to, but now I'm on . . . diet. I'm trying to lose . . . weight. 9 . . . man suffering from . . . shock should not be given anything to drink. 10 You'll get . . . shock if you touch . . . live wire with that screwdriver. Why don't you get . . . screwdriver with . . . insulated handle? 11 It costs fifty-five and . . . half pence and I've only got . . . fifty pence piece. ~ You can pay by . . . cheque here. ~ But can I write . . . cheque for . . . fifty-five and . . . half pence? 12 . . . Mr Smith is . . . old customer and . . . honest man. ~ Why do you say that? Has he been accused of . . .......

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