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
completely taken with his sister and all that she does.
Dubus is not only establishing the love Kenneth feels for Connie, but
also the respect he has for her. She was like a friend to him. We also
know that he admired his sister and enjoyed his relationship with her. This
can be seen when he discovers that she smokes and pleads with him not to
tell their parents and he simply says, "I won't" (200). In addition, he
also 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 he
was hurt (201). This demonstrates how Connie did not feel the same way
about Kenneth because she obviously did not tell him everything about her.
It is clear that Kenneth seeks his sister's approval when we are told,
"He believed that Connie thought he was exactly like her, that he was
talkative and well liked. But she never saw him with his classmates. He
felt that he was deceivi...