Can somebody explain “His Face All Red” to me?

3 Answers

  • Emily Carroll has a tendency to leave her stories down to your own personal interpretation and His Face All Red is probably one of the best examples of this. I’ll tell you my interpretation of the story but it’s not exactly concrete, it could be complete nonsense to be honest haha.

    So, the narrator is obviously very jealous of his brother as he is popular and the narrator is not. His use of things like “this man is not my brother” is basically just to tell us that he refuses to admit that he is his brother because the narrator is embarrassed of himself compared to his brother. Then the townspeople support them in their hunt to kill “the beast” and off they go. In the woods, “the beast” is cleverly not described as the narrator quickly goes to hide out of cowardice whilst the brother shoots the wolf. Afterward, the narrator knows the brother will get all the credit and he will appear to be a fool so then he kills his brother and the brother’s face is dragged through his blood which is why ‘his face all red’. Then, he throws the brother down the hole (that smelt like lavenders, note this) and takes the tear of the jacket as a souvenir. The townspeople praise him and so on, he doesn’t feel guilty at first until “his brother” stumbles out of the woods 3 days later and returns to the town.

    Now, the man who returns i believe to be a doppelganger (a paranormal/ghostly double of a person) who walks the earth due to a vengeful nature because he has been crossed by his brother and only an emotion like love or revenge is strong enough to make that happen – and let’s face it, it’s not love. So, the double goes along with the narrators false story and the narrator believes that he has forgotten what really happened. All the townspeople also believe this though the double knows inside exactly what happened and his now pleasant relationship with his brother is a cover up for his revenge plot. It is noted that the brothers house is surrounded by lavender bushes so the digger of the first hole must have had some involvement there (the brother) and then the narrator sees the double (who he believes to be his actual brother) digging a hole in the middle of the night. He does this when he thinks everyone is asleep as his plans to kill the narrator and throw him down the hole just the same as what happened to him. His spirit can then move on…

    Obviously the narrator is now haunted by this and seems to be going a bit mad! He doesn’t know why his brothers coat is not torn (it’s because he is a doppelganger and their image returns in the exact state that they died) so he goes to the hole to find out. He climbs down the hole in much tension and finally reaches the bottom. The body is still there and the coat torn. On the last page we see a red face and single staring eye. This is a figment of the narrators tortured mind and he sees his worst nightmare – his angry all knowing brother alive!

    What happens after this is don’t know he could die in the hole out of intense fear, or the double could come and pretend to save him and then have his revenge, there are an infinite number of possibilities. Hope you follow my interpretation and it makes sense 🙂 🙂 a great piece of literature by the way and if there’s anything i haven’t explained, let me know :p

  • I know this was answered like months ago, but this story has haunted me pretty much since I first read it 2 years ago.

    I agree with pieces of both explanations so far, but I feel there’s a bit more to the open ended fairy tale in regards to others of Em Carrol’s stories. She makes plenty of references to the tendency of the woods to submit supernatural things into the world. “..My brother came from the woods (most strange things do).”

    I feel like this story is about the woods having some sort of supernatural power to change human nature and further it’s agenda which, to me, manifests in her other stories. In this one, the brother does not initially have superb feelings of hatred towards his brother, but once they are in the woods with the lilac smell, his jealousy reaches a strange head and he murders his brother. He leaves the woods and tries to move on with his life until the woods births a look alike for the brother which I don’t think was any kind of specter or anything as no one else thought it was strange save the other brother. I also feel like this new creature had no physical relation to the dead brother as it smelled like lilac (like the hole) and looked brand new. The “brother” then began to dig a hole which I feel was a trap to lure others who had secret troubles with their loved ones. when the brother went back to the hole, it was because he was enticed by his guilt and curiosity and that it was another trick to get rid of the only other witness. The end with the brother turning and looking at him might’ve been him hallucinating, another product of the forest. In any case, I’m sure he didn’t make it out of the hole alive.

    There are some consistencies with other’s of her stories like Margot’s room and Out of Skin, with the forest producing evil supernatural beings and affecting the judgment of it’s inhabitants. I just can’t pinpoint exactly what the common strain is in all three. Then again, I haven’t read her book “Through the Woods” just yet.

    Anyway these are just some of my thought! :))) phew I’ve been wanting to discuss this story for forever.

  • My interpretation is a bit different, I think that when he ran for cover, so did his brother. the monster disguised himself as his brother probably to kill him… but he attacked him first.

    days later his brother returns unharmed, really only got lost, and his attitude towards him had always been cold and arrogant.

    After seeing his brother alive, he goes back to the hole and finds the body of the monster there… and my guess is it kills him…

    Probably the smell of lilac coming from the hole might be a symbolism of death or the devil??

    I just don’t have any ideas about the hole his brother was digging during the nights…

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