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Du er her: Skole > "A Kiss Before Dying" (I. Levin)

"A Kiss Before Dying" (I. Levin)

A summary and analysis of the novel "A Kiss Before Dying" by Ira Levin.

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Some facts about Ira Levin:

Ira Levin was twenty-two when he wrote his first novel, the award-winning thriller “A Kiss Before Dying”. He was twenty-five when he, fresh from military service, wrote his first play; the smash-hit adaptation of Mac Hyman’s “No Time for Sergeants”. In the years since, he has continued to work both sides of the literary street. His plays include the comedy hit “Critic’s Choice”, the musical “Drat!”, “Cat!” and the thriller “Veronica’s Room”. Among his novels are “Rosemary’s baby”, generally credited or blamed for having sparked the current revival occultism, “The Stepford Wives” and the international best seller “The Boys from Brazil”. A native-born New Yorker Mr. Levin is a alumnus of New York University and has three sons.


The setting of this story take place in a small city called Blue River, which lays someplace in the USA. The most important places are the Stoddard college and the Municipal Building in Blue River. Later the story takes place in New York.



The main characters in the story are:


Dorothy is the victim is this novel. She is a nice girl who does well at school. She is a naive girl too, and sometimes she may be too naive. She can be a little ignorant of the real life, and how things works. She think everything will fix itself if it just gets time ... for example the pregnancy of hers...



Ellen is Dorothy’s sister. She is different from her sister; she dare things that few would ... for example she travels to Blue River to hunt down the murderer ... she is a bit more adventurous. She like taking risks, for example when she told Gordons landlady she was his cousin, without thinking of the consequences. Maybe she should be a little bit more careful?



The third sister. She is different from the other sisters. Maybe Marion is more like Dorothy than Ellen, because she goes to exhibitions and museums instead of big crowds of people. She is not as beautiful as Ellen or Dorothy, so maybe she consider herself smarter than the two sisters.


Leo Kingship:

Leo is the father of the three sisters. He owns Kingship Copper Inc. , which is worth a lot of money. He is a very busy businessman.


Dwight Powell

One of Ellen’s suspects. Not a major role.


Gordon Gant

The other of the two suspects. He proves to be innocent.



He was Dorothy’s, and later Ellen’s, boyfriend. Bud is the really bad guy in this story. Even though it does not look like it on the surface. He is a war hero, honour student and a dream to all mother-of-laws. All the girls fall for him in a twinkle in his eyes. Everybody likes him. But inside he is a whole different person. He always choose the easiest ways and methods solving situations, even when it comes to killing the love of your life, because you made her pregnant and don’t want do get married with her, without sensing anything else than a relieving feeling.



The Plot:

Bud and Dorothy are a couple who is happily in love with each other. They both attend Stoddard College in Blue River. Their lives is perfect, love and harmony, they thought until one day. Dorothy is pregnant. It was a bad timing having a baby now, especially for Bud. His plans for his future would fall apart. Dorothy wants to get married, but Bud isn’t very keen. That means he has to drop out of school and find a job. He convinces Dorothy into taking some pills for the pregnancy, and tells her that if the pills don’t work, he will marry her. Dorothy tries the pills, but it has no effect, and then Bud starts to think ahead of what will happen. He has to drop out of school. He won’t get the education he want, which means he won’t get the job he want ... most probably he will get a poorer paid job.

He decides he has to kill her!


He plans the murder very carefully, and prepares what needs to be prepared. But his plans fails, and he starts to get more and more desperate, since the wedding day approaches in a hurry. Clever enough he manages to arrange a “suicide” the very day they are going to get married ... on top of the building where the Marriage Bureau is. He push Dorothy off the edge, and it all looks like a suicide.

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