RARA-AVIS: Death and deserving

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 17 Sep 2002

somebody wrote: They only kill those characters that need to be killed. There are no innocent bystanders that catch bullets. Only those who need killing get killed...

************ With few exceptions, this is true of the earlier stuff. In later hardboiled, causing death to an innocent is a handy way to produce those wonderful inner demons for the protagonist to wrestle with. This way there is both external and internal turmoil. Block's Scudder blasts an innocent child in a street fight. T.J. Parker's detective in Laguna Heat lives with the memory of hesitating to blast a bad guy and a policeman going down. Both characters spend many happy hours afterwards wal- lowing in guilt and misery.

In noir, of course, guilt and misery for death wrong- fully inflicted stretches way back and is a common device. Goodis's protagonist in SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER carries the guilt of his wife's suicide on his shoulders. Cora and Frank are in despair over killing the Greek. Hmm... Maybe that's not a very good example. ;-)

I'm not through with this, either. More later.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Sep 2002 EDT