A shocking coming of age lies at the heart of Andre Dubus' short story,
"The Intruder." Kenneth wants to be loved by his sister as much as he
loves her and through this desire, Dubus skillfully demonstrates how an
active imagination can be dangerous.
Dubus makes us aware of Kenneth's love for his sister in the first line
of the story when Kenneth escapes to the woods to dream. We know that
Kenneth loves two things, being in the woods, where he can dream, and also
being alone with his sister.
We also understand that their relationship was more than just sibling
affection when Dubus writes:
She was the most beautiful girl he knew. She was also the only
person with whom, for his entire life, he had been perfectly at ease.
He could be silent with her or he could say whatever occurred to him
and he never had to think about it first to assure himself that it
was not foolish or, worse, uninteresting" (Dubus 199). He is
But she never saw him with his classmates. We alsoknow that he admired his sister and enjoyed his relationship with her. We are told, he envisions a "large, bearded man standing in thepines trees thirty yards from Connie's room, studying the house anddeciding which window to use" (205). In conclusion, this story represents Kenneth's shocking coming of age. with his sister and all that she does. This is because he is still young and also becausehe loves his sister and thinks the best of her. Dubus is not only establishing the love Kenneth feels for Connie, butalso the respect he has for her. He blames the gunand by throwing it in the river, he becomes the hero he could not become inreal life. It is also important to note that when he hears the noise outside thefirst things he considers is "He's by the pines in front of Connie's room"(205). This line is important because itis part of the reason that Kenneth wants to protect his sister from theprowler. If he could shoot a prowler, she would always love him. He thinks of his rifle and saysto himself, "I'll throw it in the creek tomorrow, I never want to see itagain" (207). In addition, healso notices that she looks as if she had been smoking for a long time,possibly the entire summer they had been at camp and he never knew, and hewas hurt (201). He does not begin to conceive of the idea that Douglas would be sneakingback to Connie's room.