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Behind the Murders

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Baruch College

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  1. History of Clive Wilkes
  2. Clive's stay at the museum
  3. History of Edward Skipperton
  4. Skip's fued with Frosby
  5. Motivations of Skip and Clive for the murders

Patricia Highsmith's short stories exemplify her interpretation of the human condition. However, her stories tend to involve characters with very extreme emotional conditions which ultimately cause them take surprising actions, those being the typical climaxes of Highsmith short stories. In ?Woodrow Wilson's Necktie?, she tells of a teenage boy named Clive who enjoys visiting the local Waxworks Horror museum. After fulfilling a longing to stay overnight at the museum, Clive decides to perform what he thinks is another brilliant plan. He murders the museum workers and positions them around the museum displays in bizarre positions, after which to his irritation he is unsuccessful in convincing people that he committed the murders. In ?Slowly, Slowly in the Wind?, we meet Skip, a middle aged man who moves to the country in an effort to relax and rejuvenate after a heart attack. He inevitably enters into a feud with his neighbor over water rights and ends up killing him, disposing of the body in a peculiar way as well. Both men find satisfaction in committing the murders, but their intentions are different in various important ways. Skip, an extremely angry and competitive man, kills because he loses, while Clive, a young boy who doubts his own existence, kills for notoriety; both men take great pride in their deeds.

[...] Skip and Clive had committed the murders for different reasons having to do with their relationships with other people. Clive, because of his childhood situation and his relationship with his mother, craved attention. Since he did not have a father, he missed out on a lot of things that most other little boys had experienced throughout their childhoods. His mother was not there, as she should have been, to fill that void in his life and take an interest in him . [...]

[...] He had a full temper and was the type of man who was used to getting what he wanted. Skip worked as a management adviser and helped companies that were falling apart by reorganizing and reforming them to get on a more successful track. Although he was very successful, Skip didn't like to be interviewed and preferred a ghostly role. After a heart attack, Skip was told by doctors to take a hold of his life and relax, so he moved out into the country and bought a farm. [...]

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