In Andre Dubus’ “Killings” and Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the theme of death is apparent throughout both of the short stories. Both have a plot that revolves around death and murder. They differ because in Dubus’ story the theme of death is obvious because the whole plot revolves around murder, but in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” there are numerous symbols of death as well as a major theme of death. Also, the endings of the stories are of an interesting comparison because they both end in the perspective of a murderer. In “Killings” the reader is left with a depressed feeling and an irresolvable ending, while in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the reader is left feeling like the story was somewhat resolved even after all the gruesome fatality. The endings of these stories leave the reader with opposite feelings and Dubus and O’ Connor show their different outlooks on the world through these endings.
“Killings” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” vary in their point of view. “Killings”, is a story about two murders, told in the perspective of the father whose son has been killed. The father takes it upon himself to have revenge and kill his son’s murderer, Richard Strout. Since it is the father telling the story one can see how all his thoughts are based off the death of his son and the act of killing Strout. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is written from the point of view of a grandmother who is going on a trip with her family. Therefore, there is not always this apparent theme of death throughout the entire story, but that it more just appears in the ending when the perspective switches to “the Misfit”, who is the grandmother’s murderer.
It may seem that because the narrator in “Killings” is in fact, a murderer, that this story revolves around the theme of death much more so than “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, but this is untrue because there are numerous symbols that point to the theme of death throughout the entirety of this story as well. When the family is stranded on the side of the road due to a car accident O’ Connor writes that a car, “disappeared around the bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearse-like automobile” (454). This hearse looking car is the one that houses “the Misfit” a killer that had escaped from prison. The car is a clear symbol of death. Throughout the story are other symbols that include a graveyard in a plantation that the family drives by, the name of the town they are driving to, Tombsboro, and when the grandmother says that if she dies she will be dressed as a lady. So then, the grandmother’s gloves and hat may represent death as well. Although, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” does not seem like it revolves around death as much as “Killings” does, it is apparent through the plethora of symbols that leads the story to have a major theme of death and murder throughout the entire plot.
“Killings” and “A Good...