straight down the line

So Much Murder, So Much Dialogue

This week I read the noir stories of The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Killers, and A Matter of Procedure. The trope of having to murder someone for an obscure or unknown reason appears in all of these stories. Frank and Cora kill the innocent character of Nick Papadakis just because Cora thinks Nick is “greasy” and is too afraid and indecisive to run away from him. Just based on the title, The Killers¬†epilogue would have most likely ended in the death of Ole Anderson for some unknown reason that the victim doesn’t mention to Nick and A Matter of Procedure‘s murder was not definitively solved unless the woman, Ginny, they brought in was actually the culprit. The other trope that I picked up on in all three of these stories was that there was always one instance or several where characters had long and explanatory conversations with others or in their mind. The Postman Always Rings Twice is filled with this type of talking, especially when Frank discusses court proceedings and events leading up to that point with Mr. Katz and Mr. Sackett. The hired killers in The Killers told everyone who was at the diner about their plan to murder Ole Anderson for over an hour waiting for the victim to stop in for dinner, which he never did, but the killers didn’t murder anyone in the diner to keep them from warning Anderson. This was most likely because the killers knew that Ole Anderson wasn’t hiding from them and wouldn’t put up any resistance. The main character of the story A Matter of Procedure has an inner monologue analyzing the dead girl Annabel and commenting on her positive attributes while judging herself to be a bad person.

The writing style for The Postman Always Rings Twice and A Matter of Procedure are similar because they are both in first person and only follow the perspective and inner thoughts of one character. The Killers is completely different in that it is told from no single person’s perspective and you are not able to see what characters are thinking about during the entire story. While this short story is concise in its explanations and dialogue, the other two stories have conversations inside someone’s head that can continue for multiple pages when the first person character we follow is trying to see things from every angle and debating with themselves on how to approach a certain situation.

I was most¬†fascinated by the Shenandoah Literary’s story of A Matter of Procedure because watching the nameless main character take on the persona of the murdered Annabel because she thinks these changes will make her more beautiful and that her love interest Roger will notice and accept her, let me see inside her mind and what decisions led her to this course of action. Her self hatred about her physical appearance and alcoholism made the decision to change herself entirely, to be the most rational choice for her to be happy with the new persona she crafted.

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