Darkly Dreaming Dexter vs Nashville Gone to Ashes: Compare & Contrast
The protagonist of Jeff Lindsay’s book, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, is ironically an addicted serial killer who derives his euphoria from murders. Dexter, the main character, is also the narrator of the story who presents a profound proclivity for murders and killings. The title of the book appropriately describes the monster within Dexter who cannot be controlled. But while Dexter is essentially a demon within, he is also able to put up a socially acceptable mask to cover his inner being. At the same time, Dexter also reflects a gentlemanly style with his supportive attitude towards his sister (Lindsay, n.pag.). A similar pain-embracing character is presented in the narration of the short story, Nashville Goes to Ashes by Amy Hempel. The story starts with a narration about the death of the protagonist’s husband and soon the reader realizes that the story is about a woman coping with a loss (Hempel, 17). This phase is followed by the development of a close relationship with animals left by her husband and although the narrator regularly receives immunotherapy shots, she is determined to love the animals as much as her husband did. Thus, the narrator in Nashville Goes to Ashes and Dexter presents a characterization that has readily accepted the painful and destructive reality of life to seek an abstract form of existence.
In both books, the characters reflect a pain-embracing characterization. Although the narrator in Nashville Goes to Ashes makes an attempt to get over her husband’s death, she only finds herself to be channeling her energy into the effort, while at the same time, being unable to detach herself from the self-destructive condition. Dexter is also one character who does not consider himself to be a human and this aspect is reflected through his monologue-like conversations with himself. He is a character unlike any human; emotionless and necessarily a demon-like entity, which shows the degree of his self-negating aspect. Moreover, he derives pleasure from the murders he attempts and seems to have no regret for his heinous crimes. His thirst for blood does not take him to the undeserving populace but Dexter’s preys are those who truly deserve such a death. He only derives his pleasure from murdering people and this is his only motive and the truth of his life. For the most part of the book, the writer abstains from revealing the reason behind Dexter’s profound and criminal behavior but later it is obvious how some repressed memories impact Dexter and his brother’s outlook to life thereby driving them to accept crimes over ethical ways of life.
On the other hand, the narrator of Nashville Goes to Ashes seems to show unexpectedly high acceptance of her present conditions as they are in hopes of coping with her late husband’s departure. The narrator shows a close attachment with the animals after death as a way of moving on with her life and finding a new purpose. She is inspired by the way her husband loved animals and tries to take care of them in a similar respect. The narrator’s behavior cannot be explained by means of motivation but rather through an examination of her conditions where a wife has lost her husband who in his lifetime loved animals so much that she left with a recurring sense of insecurity if the narrator’s husband really loved her. She is hit by feelings of slight jealousy brewing up within her where she feels that perhaps her husband loved the animal patients more than his wife; the dog named Nashville would often sleep with her husband more often than she did.
Lindsay has based an entire series on Dexter’s scandalous acts of crimes while mentioning that his prey is usually those who deserve such a treatment. Later the writer also tells the back story to Dexter and his brother’s motivations which stemmed from a graphic experience of their mother’s death inside a refrigerated container. Such an event is enough to ruin the psyche of a mentally healthy individual thereby contaminated it with hate against injustice and hence, driving them to unlawful means of satiating their hunger for covert revenge. This experience acts as a unifying factor for both brothers where both can relate to each other for their thirst for taking revenge from the system. The story by Hempel, on the other hand, focuses more on the individual-to-individual relationship between her unnamed narrators and their relationship with other individuals. The story particularly explains the relationship between the narrator and the animals along with mixed human emotions that sometimes attract and repels someone from another.
Lindsay, Jeffry P. Darkly Dreaming Dexter. 1st ed. New York: Doubleday, 2004. Print.
Hempel, Amy. The Collected Stories Of Amy Hempel. 1st ed. New York: Scribner, 2006. Print.