Motivation for Murder in Killings and A Rose for Emily

Paper Type: 
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1212 Words
Date:  2021-03-09

Killings is a short story by Andre Dubus that explores the emotions and psychology of a couple after the murder of their son. A Rose for Emily is a short story by William Faulkner. It tells the story of Emily Grierson, the only surviving member of an aristocratic family who is brought up by her widowed father. The death of her father causes her to be isolated from the community. This essay compares and contrasts Matt Fowler's motivation for murder in Killings with Emily's in A Rose for Emily.

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As much as Matt and Emily have the same motives for the murders they commit, how they justify what they do is challengeable. Both the two characters commit murder out of love for someone. However, Matt's action is for closure following the killing of his son Frank, while Emily's is because she does not want to be alone. The narrator, who appears to speak on behalf of the entire community, portrays Emily as being weird because of the way her father brought her up. According to Volpe (96), she obviously has been affected by the way her selfish and over-protective father raised her; not even allowing her to date men even when she becomes an adult. Since she has missed out on a lot about life when he father passed away, she is overwhelmed by the desire to freeze. This spurs her to murder Homer, the man she loves, to prevent him from leaving her.

In contrast, Matt does not want to freeze time; he wishes to change the past. He is aware that killing Richard Strout will not bring back his son, but he feels that doing so will somehow give him satisfaction and content. In addition, his wife Ruth encounters Strout in town; something that triggers Matt to always carry a weapon with him. Ruth cannot bear the sight of her son's killer; and also wants to murder him. Given that Matt has the support of his wife; it probably gives him the motivation to go ahead with his plan to murder Strout. While Matt and his wife wish to achieve a sense of closure from killing their son's murderer, Emily wishes for the exact opposite. There are some things in her life that she wishes to remain the same, such as her relationship with Homer. This makes her refuse to accept what is happening in her life (Werlock, 191).

While Faulkner does not clearly state anywhere in the story how Emily murdered Homer, he did however, reveal that it was about how inhumanity towards individuals can result in murder. Volpe (103) is of the opinion that the inhumanity that Emily went through both in the hands of the society and those of her father may have triggered psychological scars that eventually spurred her to kill Homer. However, the author's insight into the short story is a generalized one that does not unequivocally offer a motive for the killing. It only provides a sense of the pain that Emily may have felt so profoundly that it prompted her to commit murder.

Matt Fowler murdered Strout out of love for his son as well as the desire for revenge. In addition to being angry due to the death of his son, he was also unhappy with the fact that Strout was granted bail. The idea of Strout walking around free was too much for Matt and his wife. It only worsened the pain of losing their beloved son, while strengthening their desire to vengeance. Together with his friend Willis Trottier comes up with a plan to murder Strout, in the process discussing the consequences. The two were of the opinion that, given the mistrust associated with the justice system, they stood a chance of getting away with the murder.

A notable reason Emily committed the murder is because she was living in an era when men usually took care of women. Such so-called care included control, and in some cases even tyranny as seen in the Emilys father treated her. Women were expected to depend on men; meaning that Emily was to depend on her father. At the time, the society was rarely kind to women who never got married. Her father did not allow her to date women and was known to send away potential suitors. However, dependence is known to breed hostility as it goes on to become a kind of bondage. Emily's father was especially controlling, and this control did little to make her happy or recognize her needs. Hence, she was caught between a rock and a hard place as she needed to be with men but did not get the chance. Even the men she had affairs with as a grown up and living alone left her. By killing Homer, Emily managed to do away with such kind of bondage, in the process finding a way of keeping a man. She kept Homer's body in her house until she died.

In Killings, Dubus treats Richard Strout, the murderer and dark antagonist with little or no empathy. The author provides horrifying details of how Matt carried out his revenge on Strout by kidnapping him, taking him into a tidy apartment, and then murdering him. Given that Dubus is a master of short stories, he gives details of this scene with surprising absurdity. It is surprising that a man like Matt who lives a clean and tidy lifestyle is capable of committing such a brutal killing. The author presents Strout in a way that is quite astounding; he is just an ordinary person who is capable of committing a brutal murder. It seems that no one else in the story is capable of such an evil act (Werlock, 186).

Any keen reader will note that the style used by Dubus in Killings is refined and concise in a manner that comes straight from the heart. The way he gives attention to female characters is especially noteworthy: the complex character of Matt's wife is excellently delivered. Interactions between Matt and his wife are often astonishing as the situations that engulf them, such as the death of their son makes them even more bonded.

The character that deserved the most empathy and sympathy is Emily from A Rose for Emily. This is because the reason that she commits the murder of Homer was not her fault. It can be seen that she was mistreated and controlled by her father, who prevented her from dating and interacting with men. Such isolation from the community and society at large affected her emotionally and mentally, spurring her to commit a brutal. The other character who commits murder, in this case Matt Fowler in Killings, does not deserve as much sympathy since he was motivated by revenge. He killed someone who was responsible for the murder of his son; something that he should have left in the hands of the justice system.

Works Cited

Dubus, Andre. Dancing After Hours: Stories. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 2011. Print.

Snyder, Mary. Analyzing Literature-to-Film Adaptations: A Novelist's Exploration and Guide. London: A&C Black. 2011. Print.

Volpe, Edmond. A Reader's Guide to William Faulkner: The Short Stories. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. 2004. Print.

Werlock, Abby. Companion to Literature: Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story. New York: Infobase Publishing.2009. Print.

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Motivation for Murder in Killings and A Rose for Emily. (2021, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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