In "Gregory" by Panos Ioannides, why are the narrator's efforts so bungling in killing Gregory?
The narrator is experienced in the Gruesome task of executing prisoners, yet it takes him several bullets to kill Gregory. Why?
It takes the narrator too long to kill Gregory because he does not want to do it, and Gregory’s pleading and crying unnerves him. He likes Gregory, and is only killing him because he has been ordered to and it’s either him or them.
In psychology, they call the difference between a person's thoughts and actions cognitive dissonance. The narrator experiences this when he has to kill Gregory.
The narrator is experienced in execution, but he wasn’t when he started. It used to make him sick. He has gotten used to Gregory, and both pities him and enjoys his company.
The men try to find ways to let Gregory escape, but he does not take the first one. They try to leave him an opening. When the guards return, Gregory is still there.
When the order came, it was like a thunderbolt. Gregory was to be shot, it said, and hanged from a telegraph pole as an exemplary punishment. (189-190)
The guards decide the only way they can save their skin is by killing Gregory as ordered. They try again to let him escape, by asking him to do laundry on his own, but again the “silly fool” doesn’t take it.
The narrator does not want to kill Gregory, and his head just is not in the right place.
He just stood there and looked at us, stunned and lost… (200)
This messes the executioner up. He thinks to himself that Gregory is stupid, and about to pay for his stupidity. Gregory asks him if he’s kidding and pleads for his life, while the narrator continues to try to get the bullets to reach him. One misses, one hits him in the shoulder, and then he finally succeeds.
IOANNIDES, PANOS (2011-08-15). GREGORY AND OTHER STORIES (Kindle Locations 189-190, 200). Armida Publications. Kindle Edition.