The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project


Moisés Kaufman

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The Laramie Project: Act 1: McKinney and Henderson Summary & Analysis

In this moment, an Anonymous Friend of Aaron McKinney since childhood describes how shocked he was to hear of the murder. The friend says that Aaron McKinney, who was twenty-one, was living in a trailer with his girlfriend and their child at the time of the murder. The friend says that, while Aaron tried to act cool, he was actually just a scared kid. Next, the narrator introduces Russell Henderson’s landlord Sherry Aanenson. Sherry describes Russell as “sweet” and says she was shocked to hear that he snapped. Sherry remembers that, at a Christmas party, Russell was very nice and even asked her to dance. Sherry says she wanted to shake him and ask him “what in the hell were you thinking?” after hearing about the murder.
Aaron’s friend implies that Aaron was a young man with too many responsibilities who felt deeply lost, while Sherry describes Russell as kind and wholesome. By intentionally evoking compassion for Aaron and Russell, the playwrights seem to imply that they are not innately evil or inherently bad. The playwrights thereby shift some of the blame for the murder away from Aaron and Russell as individuals, leaving the reader to wonder, like Sherry does, what outside factors compelled Aaron and Russell to commit such a heinous act of violence and homophobia.
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon