“The Intruder” Summary: Andre Dubus Short Story Plot Synopsis

“The Intruder” is a short story by Andre Dubus about a thirteen-year-old boy who has a traumatic experience. Here’s a summary of “The Intruder”.

“The Intruder” Summary

Kenneth Girard, thirteen, likes to sit on a hill in the woods. He tells his family he’s going for a walk because he can’t say what he really does—daydream about being a hero of various kinds. When imagining he’s an army captain, he fires his twenty-two caliber rifle at a tin can. He gets hungry and walks back home.

His parents are going to a party later and he’ll just be home with his seventeen-year-old sister, Connie. She’s beautiful and he’s perfectly at ease with her. He washes up at home. He feels he’s deceiving Connie because she probably thinks he’s talkative and well-liked as she is.

They have some food while his parents talk about tonight. They don’t want Connie staying up too late (there’s Mass in the morning), and they’ll be back at about 2 a.m. They leave at about seven-thirty, with a reminder to keep the door locked.

Connie has a cigarette and asks Kenneth not to tell. Douglas is coming over later. Kenneth goes outside to the gate leading to the road. They’ve been here six weeks. His father comes on Friday night and drives back to their home on Monday morning.

He imagines leading an assault on a guarded house and retrieving important papers. He goes back home where Connie is stirring a pot of fudge on the stove. Douglas will arrive any minute.

Kenneth goes to his room. He looks at a beautiful woman in a magazine. He gets his rifle and cleaning kit and takes them to the rocking chair in the living room. He feels inferior to Douglas, who’s a football player and full of confidence. Kenneth is shy and not very athletic. He’s good at school and hunting. He wants to be cleaning the gun when Douglas comes.

The Intruder Summary Andre Dubus Plot Synopsis short story
“The Intruder” Summary

Douglas arrives. He checks out the gun and compliments it. Kenneth goes out on the sunporch and watches some TV. Connie brings him out a saucer of fudge. They argue about when he should go to bed. He stays up for the late show but it’s a rerun.

Douglas leaves and Kenneth hears his car back away. Connie gets ready for bed and says goodnight. Kenneth sits reading a magazine for a few minutes. He locks up the house and gets ready for bed. He looks at the beautiful woman in the magazine again. He prays, does push ups and gets in bed.

While lying there, he hears a sound like someone sneaking outside the house. The prowler seems to be by the pines near Connie’s room. Kenneth rolls out of bed to his rifle and loads it. He stands at the edge of his window and waits. He sees the figure moving toward Connie’s window. He aims through the screen at the side of the prowler’s head and fires.

Connie screams and runs out the front door. She’s calling to Douglas and Kenneth understands.

The night’s events afterward feel like they happen in suspension. Kenneth tell his dad over the phone what happened. Connie is outside with Douglas. He hears the siren. The doctor comes, then Douglas’s parents, then the sheriff. The body is carried past his window as his mother comforts him.

Near sunrise Kenneth’s father gives him a pill to help him sleep. He tells Kenneth it was a prowler and he did the right thing. Kenneth knows it was Douglas but his father insists it was a prowler.

Kenneth feels sleepy. He doesn’t want the rifle anymore; he’s going to throw it in the creek tomorrow. He imagines himself on the hill. The creek becomes an ocean and he throws all guns, cruelty, passion and tears into it.

I hope this summary of “The Intruder” by Andre Dubus was helpful.