First published in The New
Yorker 72 (December 2, 1996): 86-90+
Posted by TCB on September
In Reply to: T.C. evolving...but
for the better? posted by Tony Powell on September 06, 2000:
Dear Tony, Al, Jim, Colleen,
Mary: My last look at the message board for a bit, and I love
the debate and its terms. Stick with me, folks--I just don't
want to repeat myself. If I only wrote stories like those in
Descent of Man, methinks you all would tire quickly of the work.
And Tony, don't worry: to my mind, the story still takes precedence,
and there are a bunch of them in After the Plague that should
appeal to you. By the way, what do you think the message of "Killing
Babies" is? To my mind it has something to do with violence
breeding violence rather than being a statement about abortion
rights--the younger brother could as easily have been on the
other side. Isn't that the point? Further, there is no more "message"
to Friend than there was to Tortilla. I'm giving you a scenario--you
must figure it out for yourself. If I ever preach, please hit
me with a hammer. TCB.
- - - - -
Posted by marina poirier on
October 26, 2000:
Dear Mr Boyle
I am a French student from
the University of Angers, few months ago I sent you a letter
about my translating Killing Babies. Thanks a lot for the names
of translators you gave me to help me. Now I would like to discuss
Killing Babies from a literary point of view. Indeed in order
to obtain my Master's Degree I have to propose both a translation
of the short story and a literary analysis. I don't really have
the same perception of the protagonist Rick as the teacher who
directs me for this work.
I think Rick is a paradoxical
character full of contradictions. He is lost and he is even more
lost when arriving in Michigan he doesn't find what he had expected
( Philip practicizes abortion, snow is not what he had imagined,
he is called a baby killer...). Then he lacks of references and
family values. To sum up he is in search of his own identity.
Do you think Sally could have
been his "raison de vivre" as one says in French ?
Could Sally have been the one who could have prevented him from
doing his final gesture?
Are there any autobiographical
elements in this short story ? Why have you created such a character
? How do you perceive Rick ? What do you think of his relationships
with others ?
Recently I read The Tortilla
Curtain. I liked it very much. It made me aware of lot of things
as an example, in our societies we are so much preoccupied with
materialism that we forget what really counts : humanity. Please
continue writing such novels.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Posted by TCB on October
Dear Marina Poirier: I cannot
interpret my own stories for you, but I do like your peceptions
about Rick. I don't feel that there are political or autobiographical
associations in the story. Read it deeply and all your questions
will be answered. Amities, TCB.
- - - - -
Posted by Marina Poirier on
February 19, 2001:
Dear Mr Boyle
Few months after our last
e-mails I still require your help for my literary analysis of
Firstly, Iwould like to know
if the choice of "Killing Babies" has been inspired
by erge Leclaire's "On tue un enfant". What did influence
you in this work?
Then I think Denise represents
a kind of father figure for Rick, am I right? Is she Rick's symbol
of motherhood? Is this ironic in this context of abortion?
According to me Rick is inhabited by an inner conflict he needs
badly to externalize. What that of protagonist does represent
If you have anything more
to add concerning Killing Babies I would be very happy. I think
having several views about a short story is very interesting.
Thanks a lot for accaepting
to answer all my questions. The more deeply I read and
analyse Killing babies the more I enjoy it. I am waiting for
After the Plague impatiently.
by TCB on February 19, 2001:
Dear Marina Poirier: I like
some of your theories, but cannot answer interpretive questions
about my own work: that is verboten. You will find an answer
to your question about what prompted the story in the Best American
Stories volume, 1997 (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin) in the contributors'
notes, where I do talk about this. TCB.
© 2001 Sandye Utley,
Last Page Update: 10 March