In Bloodstain, Christopher W. Rowan portrays the theme very effectively. The theme teaches how a lack of responsibility can negatively affect more than one individual. This theme is represented by the actions of the main character, Fred, as well as his parents, and Mr. Haskell, the unfortunate victim.
Rowan’s theme of irresponsibility is expressed most clearly through the behavior of the protagonist, Fred. The initial incident is Fred’s poor decision to take his parents’ gun. With the knowledge that they would not be returning home soon, he underhandedly sneaks the weapon away into the nearby forest. Once he is there, he carelessly acts out an adventure, completely oblivious to the fact that the hammers on the gun are cocked; the gun is ready to fire. When he sees what he thinks is a rabbit, he impulsively fires at it. In addition, after his frightening discovery, Fred thoughtlessly flees the scene instead of making any attempt to save Mr. Haskell. Preceding the accident, Fred’s intense determination to hide the truth is illustrated clearly with this quote: “‘I’ll never tell,’ he told himself. ‘They’ll never even suspect me.’” It is quite evident that most of the responsibility in this situation belongs to Fred.
Furthermore, Fred’s parents’ lack of responsibility indirectly contributes to Mr. Haskell’s death. Their first act of carelessness is when they neglect to keep the gun locked up in a safer place. Instead, they keep it in a location where it is easily accessible to Fred. Equally important, Fred’s parents don’t suspect anything unusual when he doesn’t attend Mr. Haskell’s funeral. They merely accept his somewhat transparent excuse; he just claims that the situation is too sad. When Fred’s mother notices his throbbing index finger, she asks, “What’s the matter with your finger? You’ve been doing that for 2 or 3 days.” Fred replies with another poor excuse, which his mother readily accepts without further questioning. This is yet another instance where she shows negligence towards her son’s life. Fred’s parents are not directly responsible for this tragedy; nevertheless, they still contribute to the situation considerably.
Lastly, the responsibility of this disaster ironically falls upon Mr. Haskell as well. Despite his knowledge of Fred’s reckless behavior, he neglects to correct his conduct. Upon encountering Fred in the forest, Mr. Haskell takes the gun away only to uncock both of the hammers. After doing so, he ignorantly hands it back to him, apparently treating the situation lightly. At this point, he knows that Fred is not capable of handling a firearm safely; however, Mr. Haskell does not reprimand his for this. Next, he asks Fred, “Folks know you got that blunderbuss out?” Fred replies, “No sir,” and Mr. Haskell playfully cuffs his ear, apparently not seeing the significance of this fact. He has now learned that the gun is stolen, but he does not take the situation seriously. Instead, he mildly warns him not to shoot anybody’s cow, and then leaves. Consequently, his casual approach to the matter results in his unfortunate death.
In conclusion, in a disastrous event, responsibility is often shared. In Bloodstain, Fred’s actions are what directly leads to Mr. Haskell’s death; however, his parents and Mr. Haskell himself are also to blame for the tragic turn of events.