Bennet’s: The Executioner “I am the executioner. When the crime is committed and the Lord God
does not take vengeance nor does the exalted State move to declare and then
to punish, I say when these bitter events happen, then comes the time for
the executioner to declare himself or herself as the case may be. I have
waited long enough.
So the time has come, and I declare myself the executioner.
The three criminals are hereby sentenced to death.Order now
By fire. By earth. By water.”
This is the direct and powerful quotes taken from the novel, The
Executioner. It explains the basic plot of the story of the one word that
every man fears: Revenge. The Executioner was written by the Canadian born
author, Jay Bennett. The strengths and weaknesses of this report will be
discussed in detail, and the plot of this murder, suspense, and horror
story are revealed. The plot will be discussed, for easier comprehension of
This plot begins when Bruce , an 18 year old high school boy was at a
bar with his best friend Raymond, and a few other friends named Ed, and
Elaine. Unfortunately, Bruce got intoxicated, but still decided to drive
the others home from the bar. On the way home, Bruce began arguing with
Ray, (the only sober one), and the car was steered of the road into a tree.
Raymond was killed by the accident. However, everyone thought that Bruce
was not intoxcated at the time, and the car just accidentally swerved off
to the side.
Throughout the next chapters, Bruce keeps facing the guilt of killing
Ray, and tries to admit to everyone that he did. No one believes him
though, and think’s he’s just making up the story to cover the guilt up.
This carrries on for a while, and Bruce feels even more depressed. A few
days later, a mysterious man, (the executioner) comes into the bank, and
takes out a letter (The one at the introduction of the review) and says,
“The first shall die by fire.”
The next thing the story shows is a scene in a building, where Ed and
Bruce are walking. All of a sudden, Ed is trapped in a room, which is set
on fire. Bruce tries to recue him, but was too late. Ed died of smoke
inhalation. Bruce knows the fire resulted from the killing of Ray. The
police however say the fire just started from a cigarette in a garbage can.
The story’s next scenario is at the bank again, where the executioner
pulled out the paper, which said, “The next shall die by water.”
Then, Bruce was discussing all the deaths with Elaine, who was in the
car when Ray was killed. Elaine then said she wanted to go sailing alone.
Bruce insisted that she shouldn’t, for she might get hurt. She ignored his
plead, and left for sea. The next morning, she was found dead. The police
said it was by drowning from a cramp, but again, Bruce did not beleive it.
At Elaine and Ed’s funeral, Bruce was walking around, and saw a strange
man dressed in a priest’s clothing. He approcahed the man, who said he was
Reverend William Dunn. Dunn said that all the deaths were caused because
the people did not repent. Bruce said he was mad, but the Reverend said
Bruce was the one that was mad, and that if he didn’t repent, he was doomed
to end up the same way. Bruce ran off quickly.
Two weeks later, Ray’s brother, Oliver came over. He talked to Bruce
about everything that was happening, and said to forget it, because none of
it was Bruce’s fault. He asked to be friends with Bruce, and Bruce agreed.
The next thing they decided on was to find the executioner, (who they think
is Reverend Dunn), and kill him. Bruce first talked to his father about the
Reverend, and his dad says that the reverend has been dead for 5 years now!
Bruce was then more determined to solve this mysterious problem, and cure
himself of his past. Oliver and Bruce go where they think the executioner
is hiding, and wait there, armed with guns. Oliver tells Bruce to stay
right there, while he goes and looks for the executioner. Bruce all of a
sudden hears a scream and runs to find out what it is. He enters the room
where the scream came from, and sees Oliver with a reverend’s mask and
clothes on with a gun pointing to Bruce’s head. He directs Bruce to a pit,
and throws him in. He says, “The first died from fire, the second from
water, and now you, the final death, by earth.” As the executioner was
about to shoot him, he heard a bang. The bullet of Bruce’s father had
pierced through the exectutioner’s head. It was all over.
The excellent use of plot, suspense, and amazing choice of characters
creates the perfect plot for the story. The executioner provides the
horror, and mystery which adds excitement to this fantastic story. The use
of plot twists creates suspense, and even more exhilaration throughout the
A good example of plot twist was how the executioner turned out to be
Raymond’s brother, Oliver, who seeked avengance from his brother’s death.
The reader never sees this, until the end. This creates suspense, because
the reader wants to find out throughout the story exactly who the
executioner is. This tension is held in right until the very end.
The use of Oliver as the executioner was absolutely unanticipated.
Bennett also creates Oliver in a great way, trying to pose as a friend to
Bruce, to make it seem more covered up. Oliver being the comforting man to
Bruce, turned out to be Bruce’s nemesis. Bruce was also a good creation of
a character. His covered up personality in the story causes mystery among
the reader. He is a shy boy, who seems to be lost in his own life. He seems
so afraid of everything, and when the executioner appears in the plot, his
worst of nightmares come true. Raymond was also a good use of character.
His ‘perfect’ personality and humor emphasizes the loss when he is killed.
It makes the reader see his death as a greater loss, since he would have
been a very successful man.
Bennett also may have included a subliminal theme to the teenagers with
driving liscenses. In the plot, the reason for Ray dying was because of
drunk driving. Bennett may have been emphasizing the thought that driving
drunk kills. When some adolescents read this, they may think twice about
drinking and driving.
Another strength that Bennett used was that he created a certain mood
in the story. At the beginning, all was calm, with humor added by Raymond.
When Raymond dies, there is no humor left, just a void of sadness, and the
executioner. Now that the humor is gone, all emotions are stressed on
anger, and revenge. This creates more excitment and anxiety in the hearts
of the readers.
It was also interesting to see how Bennett puts one chapter in every
book where the executioner goes to the bank, and reads the note. This is
like the air of forboding, sensing that someone is going to die soon. It
also creates more fear for the reader. The quote of “By fire, by water, by
earth” is also ingenious. Using natural elements instead of weapons or
other items also creates more terror, since they are more mundane than fire
arms. It is more of a pyschological scare that people are going to die from
something more enormous.
Bennet also uses good description, which is essential in a story. An
example was on page 10 in the story. In this quote of Bruce taking a walk
“Standing motionless in the slowly fading light. He heard a neighbor’s
dog bark, a deep and solemn sound died abruptly and all was still again.
The air was quiet and soft as silk. He walked along the tree-shaded street,
using the cane to favour his right leg. The leaves overhead lay flat and
thick along the twisted and narrow black branches. The air was quiet and
soft again.” This quote shows the excellent description that Bennett uses
in his stories.
Bennett also masters one area in story writing. This is suspense. One
example was at te end of the story, when Bruce and Oliver are trying to
kill the executioner. Bruce is scared, and the suspense is brewing.
“Come on Bruce. Your life’s on the line. Would you rather take a gun to
protect yourself, or face the fact of ending up like Raymond? The choice is
yours. Make the sensible move.”
Two other classic quotes in the story cause suspense, and fear. These are:
“The time has come, and I declare myself the Executioner.”
“The three criminals are hereby sentenced to life. By fire. By water.
By earth.” These two quotes show suspense, and make the reader wonder ‘What
will happen next?’
One clue that Oliver gives to Bruce that shows he might be the
executioner is when he says, “Four indians in a car. And then there were
none.” This signals to Bruce that he is the last person left alive in that
car; soon he will be dead. It also gives the reader a clue as to wheter or
not Oliver might be the executioner. This again arises suspense.
Bennett uses an interesting way to show the executioner’s motive to get
revenge. The first is by the quote stated at the beginning, saying that
“When the crime is committed and the Lord God does not take vengeance, then
comes the time for someone to declare himself the executioner.” At the end
of the story, Oliver (the executioner) says some brilliant words that prove
to be a very good strength in the story. This is his motive:
“He died because of his friendship for you. And now you talk of God.
You killed him. And with that you killed me, too. My brother and I were
gonna spend our lives together. We had such dreams. Such plans. To become
great archetects. You destroyed the dream. Now you talk of mercy. There’s
no mercy in this life. There is justice, and there is execution.”
This was a clever way for Bennett to express the words of hate and
revenge in the story. Again it was another strength for the book.
As with any book, there are weaknesses. Fortunately, Bennett managed to
keep them to a minimum, making the book much more enjoyable. The first
weakness is one that Jay Bennett manages to do in every one of his books.
This being that he includes too much dialogue in the story, making it
extremely confusing after a while. The reader seems to lose his or her
place some times because of it. An example is this conversation on page 64:
“Why do you do that, Ed?”
“I dunno. Guess it’s just instinctive.”
“That’s not a real reason.”
“Yeah it is. And big deal if it isn’t.”
“No it isn’t. I know it. So do you.”
“Just drop it. Forget it.”
“No. I don’t want to.”
This always causes confusion among the reader, and proves to be one weakness.
The other weakness happened to be in the dialouge. This was that
Bennett used too much slang in the speech. He may have done it to suit the
younger readers, but others interperate as more confusion among the reader,
and therefore a worse understanding of the book. One example was this quote
taken from the book:
“Goddamn that was good. Helluva night there, eh Bruce?” Again this
causes confusion among the reader, and also proves to be a weakness.
Although there were a mere two weaknesses in the book, the book made an
excellent recovery by having over 10 strengths. Bennett managed grasp the
qualities of suspense with great expertise. He mixed revenge and anger to
create an award winning novel. All the strengths show the high standard of
a book. The length was reasonably short, so it did not bore the reader. The
suspense was exhilarating, and so was the way the plot was laid out. The
great plot twist at the end showed exactly what Bennett is capable of
producing. This was one of the best books written in a long time. This
review however can’t display the book’s moments. It has to be read, not
Inside, Bennett also threw in a very important theme which is directed
at teenagers. This being “Don’t drink and drive; a person might just lose
more than their liscense.” Maybe he should have added that the person also
has to live with the guilt…. for the rest of his life, and will pay for
it, one way or another.