"The Curse," written by Andre Dubus, is about a forty-nine year old man named Mitchell Hayes who bartends at a local bar. One night, just after Mitch announces last call, a young woman walks in to purchase cigarettes from the machine. There were only five people left in the bar. These five men, who Mitch had thought were on drugs, grabbed the girl, held her down on the floor and raped her. Mitch tried to get to the phone but he was pushed back and was shielded during the incident. Once the men left, Mitch called the police. Thereafter, he found out that the police arrested the men. After the rape, Mitchell is troubled over his decision of not making a stronger attempt to stop the rape from happening. Police, family, and friends try to reassure Mitchell by telling him he made the right decision and he did all he could. Nevertheless, he continued to feel remorse that he could have done more to help the girl. .
"The Curse" occurs in a small town, located close to a beach in the New England part of the United States, on a warm evening in August. The reader is able to determine this from mention of the Merrimack River. The timeline of the story is sometime between the late 1980's and the present day, determined by the reference to the 911 call. .
The main idea of this story is that we all live regret. We have made choices in our lives that we wish we could change. What may seem right to someone may seem to be an evasion to others. We have to learn to exist with our decision no matter what the outcome from them may be. Some of the hardest things to deal with when thinking about the decisions we have made in the past is the, "should've, would've, and could've." Nothing can be done to change history. .
The main character is Mitchell Hayes. His thoughts and actions are essential to the story and are described in detail. He changed from a moderately lighthearted, self-assured man into a sad, self-defeated man who described himself as feeling "fatigued beyond relieving by sleep.