In "The Love of a Good Woman," did Rupert kill the doctor or not?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Love of a Good Woman," the reader is never certain whether Rupert Quinn does, in fact, kill the doctor.

Rupert's wife tells a story to Enid, the woman who comes in to care for her.  According to Mrs. Quinn, Dr. Willens comes to their home to examine her eyes.  (Willens is an optometrist, and Mrs. Willens is a young woman with kidney disease.)

Mrs. Quinn recounts that when Rupert returns home one day and discovers the lecherous doctor hovering over her, with her dress pushed up and his hand on her thigh, Rupert "loses" it.  He grabs the doctor and bangs his head against the floor until Rupert kills the older man.

Mrs. Quinn goes on to say that she and Rupert work together to dispose of Willens' body by putting it into his car and driving it into the river, where three teenage boys will ultimately discover it.

Later, Mrs. Quinn dies of kidney failure.  Having heard Mrs. Quinn's story, Enid (who secretly likes Rupert) believes that Rupert should confess to what he has done, however she cannot be sure that Mrs. Quinn told her the truth.  So she arranges to have Rupert row her out to the middle of the river, tell him that she cannot swim, and share what she has been told.

This is where the story ends.  The reader does not know for sure if Rupert is guilty of murdering Willens, and cannot be sure whether or not he kills Enid either.

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The Love of a Good Woman

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