Uncle Andy is the mother’s brother. He has a special fondness for Eugie because the boy resembled him. After Eugie’s death, Andy immediately embraces the sheriff’s interpretation of Arnold: that he is essentially a cold, cruel boy who cares nothing for his brother. It is also Andy who brings up this interpretation in front of the neighbor men who come to visit the family in the evening. He explains the sheriff’s idea as if it is an irrefutable fact, helping to cement its validity in Arnold’s mind.
Nine-year-old Arnold is the protagonist of the story. Arnold is the youngest child of the family and feels that he is in a subordinate position to his older brother Eugie. Because of this power imbalance, Arnold both looks up to and dislikes Eugie. Arnold’s role within the family is not made clear in the story, but clearly he defines himself, his growth, and his actions in terms of Eugie.
After Arnold kills Eugie, he has no one against whom to measure himself any longer. He does not know how to react to his family, and he allows other people—particularly the sheriff and his Uncle Andy— to impose their view of him and his actions on his self-perception. By the end of the story, Arnold has tacitly accepted their judgment and has determined to turn himself into what they see him as. To them, he is a ‘‘reasonable’’ killer, one who is detached from his feelings and the hurt he inflicts on others, and certainly a boy who will only become more detached and more dangerous as time progresses.
In his brother Arnold’s eyes, 15-year-old Eugie is almost a...
(The entire section is 711 words.)
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