Just Like That

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Just Like That” by Michael Richards. We will show you examples of the elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Just Like That” (1987)
Author: Michael Richards
Genre: Short story

Michael Richards is an Australian writer who has won several awards for his short fiction. Richards began his career as a photographer and currently works as an educational manager, writing fiction in his spare time.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 


The rifle is a symbol of power, but also of destruction and violence. The rifle is referenced many times throughout the story and it becomes an object used for killing. The man uses it to kill kangaroos for pleasure, displaying no remorse upon leaving them to rot. The boy uses the rifle to gain the feeling of becoming a man and, in the end, he most likely uses it to kill the man. The rifle therefore also becomes a symbol of dominance and revenge.

It is also interesting to note that some of the descriptions suggest that the rifle takes control of the boy, which is a way to show how he becomes numb to the violence and loses control of himself in the search for the power and violence he associates with manhood: “...the rifle raised itself in his hands”.

The kangaroos are symbols of the boy’s innocence. When the boy shoots the kangaroos, he grows colder and is unable to feel empathy towards the animals. The boy eventually feels “empty as if his heart and his guts had been sucked out of the barrel of his gun”, which shows that killing his first kangaroo leads to him losing his innocence.


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Just Like That

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