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Tim Gautreaux’s The Missing: Journeys of Vengeance or Belonging?

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Louisiana Catholic author Tim Gautreaux engages questions of violence and revenge in his two most recent novels, The Clearing (2003) and The Missing (2009). In particular, engaging the popular myth of redemptive violence, The Missing explores the attractiveness of this idea before ultimately revealing the falseness of this simplistic approach to evil. This essay draws on Catholic social teaching as well as theologian Walter Wink’s analysis of redemptive violence to investigate the critique of revenge revealed in the novel. Through the protagonist Sam Simoneaux’s wrestling with the possibility of revenge juxtaposed with his uncle’s quiet Catholic-infused teaching, the novel reveals that a journey toward reclaiming a painful past is only possible if the siren song of vengeance is resisted.

Affiliations: 1: Bluffton University


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