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Love and Possession

The essence of love is possession. Or at least we believe after we have read Andre Dubus's short story "Killings", which is about love and loss. Dubus implicitly explores the idea of the loss of love - in the most terrible way possible, for the story centers on a father's loss of his son to murder - as a form of possession and in doing so allows us to understand not only the power of love but something of its darker nature. He makes us understand why we speak of the end of love as a "loss", using the same metaphor that we use to describe a lost fortune or a lost plot of family land. Certainly Matt loves his son, Frank, and certainly he grieves for his death. But mostly what he feels is the fact that something that was his - his son, his love for his son, his son's love for him - has been taken from him. And this loss - this theft - is something that he determines that he must avenge. The story is thus a retelling of the neoclassical revenge tale as embodied in a work like Othello, although with a modern moral.

It has been argued that there is in fact only one story, and that all the stories that have ever been told around campfires or on the long march over the Bering Land Bridge or in chat rooms are merely different versions of this story, which is the quest for something that has been lost, as Smith (1991) suggests. Such quests may center on physical objects that must be found - such as the Grail - or sometimes cast away (as is the case with the Ring in Tolkien's triology). But often the quest is for something intangible, as it is in the case of this story, where what Matt must find is revenge, which will serve as a form of payment for what he has had taken from him.

This story, for all of its modern setting, is an essentially primitive one, as are all tales of revenge. It is also an essentially male story, for the connection between love and possession - the understanding of love as possession - is more commonly a male vision,...

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Love and Possession. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:04, June 19, 2019, from