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My Son the Murderer

  • Date Submitted: 12/19/2011 04:34 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61 
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§1. In April 2005 I had to select a story among a few and analyze the issue of violence for a PhD course. I chose "My Son the Murderer" not only for its title and its poetry. As a reader who is critical of the structures and values prevailing in our society, I am convinced the writer is using a poetical personal statement to expose violence, and this is what I endeavor to explore.
§2. The theme is human tragic destiny, the futility of human efforts, whether the tragic destiny is accepted or not. Considering the 20th century killed the gods, the path opened by the Greek tragedy evolves-if gods decided on our destinies before, society's power structures should be held accountable nowadays. What is the cause of the Son's intense anguish -posed by the authoritative voice of the narrator in the opening paragraph? The information in the story points entirely to the war, the truemurderer ; the crucial letter in the story is one coming from the draft-board, not the explanation the Father hopes for. The Son (the writer?), seems to refuse to explain what is obvious. In the story there is nothing that leads us to think the Son might have a mental crisis unconnected to the fact of the war. What triggers incommunication between the Son and the Father? Their failure to take action-at least in words-about Harry's conscription.
§3. The quality of literature is often its capacity to echo a complex flow of meaning. The story is intended to be read emotionally (poetic use of language, point of view) and in the context of our time (determinate meanings). Reflecting on this may lead to a fuller understanding of the literary strength of this elegy on the impossibility of love against the background of a bitter exposure of the reasons-human violence.
§4. Transactional reader-response theory. Determinate meanings in the story come from facts presented by an omniscient narrator who tells the story in the third person-opening paragraph, present (504) and second half of the story, past...


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