How do you feel about Matt's act of revenge? Trace the emotions his character produces in you as the plots unfolds.

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This question calls for a personal essay giving your own opinions and emotions about the story. The best way to go about it is to read the story slowly and carefully and imagine what you would be feeling and how you would react if you were to go through something similar to the situations depicted in the story.

The short story "Killings" by Andre Dubus begins at the funeral. The murder has already been committed, and the killer of Matt's son Frank has already been released on bail. Matt and his wife, Ruth, are forced to see the murderer going freely around town as they go about their daily business. How would you feel if your youngest son, only twenty-one years old, had been murdered and you not only had to endure his loss, but also constantly observe the man who killed him released from jail and going wherever he wanted?

Matt and his friend Willis have a talk, and Willis sympathizes with Matt's situation. Willis says that the murderer will probably get a short prison sentence. Matt says that he has started carrying a gun around, hoping that the murderer will provoke a situation in which Matt would have to defend himself. Do you think that Willis's sympathy contributes to Matt's vengeful mood?

Dubus then fills in some back story about the murderer, Richard Strout. He is a bartender and a bully. Matt's son Frank had started dating Strout's wife, Mary Ann, and spending time with her two boys after she and Strout had separated. At first, Strout beat Frank up when he found out. Matt and Ruth slowly began to accept Frank's relationship with Mary Ann, and then one day, Strout shot and killed Frank right in front of Mary Ann and her boys. Do you feel any sympathy for Strout? Do you think Frank should have been dating a woman who was still married to someone else? Or do you feel nothing but revulsion for Strout and what he did?

Matt can't take the grief anymore, and he works out a plan with Willis to kill Strout. They kidnap Strout at gunpoint as he gets off work. They pretend that they are sending Strout out of town, but then they take him into the woods, shoot him, and bury him. When Matt returns home, Ruth is waiting and asks if he has done it, and he tells her. Was Matt justified in what he did? Was it right of him to tell his wife, knowing that she would then have knowledge of the crime?

As you follow the story, hopefully these questions will help you with writing down your thoughts and emotions.

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