The Killer Inside Me Character Analysis

862 Words 4 Pages
There are various theories and scientific hypotheses for why certain human beings become serial killers. These rational explanations work to understand how an outwardly average individual, one who is capable of functioning in society, can inwardly be a callously calculating and cold-blooded murderer. Society’s desire to know how these nefarious individuals develop and why they are inclined to perform such incredibly heinous and violent acts is understandable. For if one can uncover a specific origin point for the development of a serial killer, than the chilling enigma surrounding these vicious individuals may be able to be stripped away. However, what seems to be more disconcerting than trying to understand how a serial killer comes into …show more content…
Published in 1952, Thompson’s novel is derived from the hardboiled crime fiction genre, which rose to popularity during the 1930s and 1940s. Hardboiled fiction introduced readers to the character of the maverick private detective, a man who typically adhered to his own set of unconventional ethics and who always caught the crook and solved the crime. The Killer Inside Me, however, reconstructed this hardened protagonist into a sadistic serial killer, as Susanna Lee, in her article entitled “The Menace of the Post-Hardboiled Maverick: Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280 and Modern Television Detective Drama”, explains, “But in the 1950s and 1960s, Jim Thompson’s first-person narrators, baleful descendents of the hardboiled heroes, turned the autonomous status and maverick ethics of the principal character into a source of pure menace” (43). In The Killer Inside Me, the character with these menacing ethics is Lou Ford, the deputy sheriff of Central City, Texas. Ford is similar to the hardboiled detective only in that he abides by his own set of ethics, but instead of following a moral code that helps to restore order, Ford’s ethics lead him to create chaos and murder. Lee writes about the reversal of this role, from a narrator who acts as a liberator to one who performs as a destroyer, she …show more content…
He tries to appeal to the reader’s intellect and emotions when trying to explain his reasons for committing murder, explanations that seem to be based on some of society’s most widely accepted theories about serial killers. However, Ford’s reasons appear to fall short based on a variety of clues, which will further be explored in this paper, that point to his unreliability as a narrator. With Ford being both violent serial killer and duplicitous narrator, Thompson seems to be investigating the inexplicableness of evil despite society’s belief that it can be understood and rationalized. In the article entitled “Being’s Wound: (Un)Explaining Evil in Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me”, Dorothy Clark acknowledges the impossibility of making sense of evil, she writes, “In The Killer Inside Me, evil cannot be known or understood through Reason; it can only be sensed and experienced in the concrete and remains as elusive and slippery as the sensibility controlling this narrative” (54). It appears as if the reader must form his or her opinion of Ford based on his actions rather than his words. One has to cautiously navigate through Thompson’s novel because the narrator, being an untrustworthy and sadistic killer, cannot be relied upon to provide any substantial facts about himself or his

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