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Thesis-Driven Essay




Mattin the story &quotKillings&quot and Emily in &quotA Rose forEmily&quot both commit murders with similar motives. Thejustification for both of them is debatable. The similarity of theirmotives lies in the fact that both these characters commit murderbecause of their love for someone. In &quotKillings,&quot Mattkills because his son, Frank, is executed too. On the other hand,Emily slays out of her fear of being alone. This paper will explorethe similarities and differences between the murders in the twostories.

InEmily`s case, she has weird and atypical behavior because of themanner in which her overprotective father raised her. The people ofJefferson perceived her as a woman having a sort of an obligation tothe town that they saw as hereditary (Faulkner, 1930). Her father wasoften selfish and overprotective to the extent that even when shebecame an adult, he never let her date men. This is illustrated bythe fact that the people &quotRemembered all the young men that herfather had driven away&quot (Faulkner, 1930). She ends up missingout on a lot in life. By the time her father dies, she had missed somuch that she made a decision at least enjoy what she had beenmissing out on. Emily ends up killing Homer, the man that she lovesso much because she could not bear the thought of him leaving her.She could not harbor any thought of being alone at such a late stagein her life.

Onthe other hand, in &quotKillings&quot Matt contradicts Emily`s casebecause in his perspective, he is not looking to stop time as Emilywas, but instead, his primary objective was to change the past andrevenge. His son is killed, and he feels that the only way he isgoing to feel better and more contented was if he murdered Strout.This is despite the fact that even committing such a heinous crimemight be in futility since it would not bring his son back. Matt`swife comes across their son`s killer in town, and this influencesMatt to start carrying a gun with him. This is illustrated well inthe story where Matt claims that &quotI started carrying (the gun)after the first time (my wife) saw him in town (Dubus, 1979). Hiswife cannot bear the sight of Strout, their son`s killer and she evenstarts harboring the feeling of wanting to kill him. This supportfrom his wife motivated Matt even more for to go ahead and proceedwith his plan to end Strout`s life as revenge for his murdered son.

Comparingand contrasting these two scenarios, we find that Matt and his wifewanted to put an end to their agony over their son`s death. Anger andfeeling of guilt had clouded them for long because of their son`sdeath which had hit them hard. They had never come to terms with thefact that Strout had murdered their son and now they had realized theonly way to end this misery and come to terms with reality is to killStrout, the reason for their misery. They wanted to achieve thatsense of closure and conclusiveness. Emily`s motive, however, was thesame, only with a different perspective. She was not looking for anysense of closure but instead she wants the opposite. She wants thingsin her life to remain the same. She did not want things to changelike her romance with Homer. Emily had the weakness of the refusal toaccept how things had happened and changed in her life. An example ofher rebellious nature is seen when, despite the fact that her fatherhad died for three days, she still &quotTold them her father was notdead.&quot (Faulkner, 1930). She did not like the sense of losingsomeone she loves.

Thesetwo narrations have some similarities worth noting. The maincharacters in both stories start out as having minimal mentalproblems. Emily and Matt are both mentally disturbed characters whosepast experiences have made them troubled. As the stories begin, theyare not expressed as bad people. In fact, they are pictured just likeordinary people who are victims of unfortunate circumstances. But asthe stories develop, they change from these seemingly good people tocold-blooded killers at the end. All this is due to the love thatEmily and Matt had for their partner and son respectively. Anothersimilarity that these two accounts have is that both thesecharacters, Emily and Matt, go away with their murders. Emily lovedHomer Barron to the extent that the people of Jefferson town saidthat, &quotShe would marry him&quot (Faulkner, 1930). Even whenthings got a little complicated for Emily when Homer remarked that hehad a liking for men, Faulkner (1930) illustrates that she stillloved him leading to the town to say that &quotshe would persuadehim.&quot When Homer started to go for days without coming to seeher, she was afraid of losing him. She killed him probably becauseshe feared him leaving and yet she got away with it.

Matthad the feeling that the judicial system or the law had failed togive him and his wife justice for their murdered son. They felt letdown by the legal system pushing them to kill and yet they got awaywith it too. Both Emily and Matt were again similar in theirsituation in that they felt a little remorse for their actions butnevertheless, they still continued to live their lives as if nothinghad ever happened.

Boththese accounts draw sympathy and empathy from the reader though todifferent extents. Matt`s situation brings more sympathy because itis understandable that he is revenging his son`s death. The fact thatthe killer was known to them makes it even more justifiable. It ishuman nature to avenge their loved ones, and Matt`s situation was nodifferent. Even from Strout`s point of view, the reader can arguethat he deserved it. Emily`s case, however, is a little undeserving.She did not have any justifiable reason to kill Homer. The onlyunderstandable aspect of Emily`s circumstance was her deep love forHomer but loving someone does not justify killing them if they do notreciprocate. She could have chosen to fight for her love or give upaltogether and move on, but murdering him should not have been anoption. From Homer`s point of view, it was not fair.


Thesestories make one wonder the extent that a human being can go forlove. It proves everyone has their limits when pushed to a tightsituation especially when it involves a person they love. Inaddition, human beings commit murder for different reasons. Matt andEmily acted out of love, which clouded their judgment.


Dubus,A. (1979). Killings.Sewanee Review

Faulkner,W. (1930). Arose for Emily.The Forum