December 12, 2018
The Growth of Thomas Hewitt
Thomas Hewitt, also known as Leatherface, is a terrible monster being shown in the horror movies of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacres.” He kills humans, wears their faces as masks, and performs in cannibalism. He may be one of the most dangerous murderers, but the reason for this has many causes. He was thrown out in the dumpster, the family that raised him introduced him to cannibalism, and his skin deformities were a cause to his monstrosity. Even though he is a normal human being, there are many reasons to why he became a monster.
In the 2006 film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, shows how Thomas’s mother was working in a slaughterhouse in Texas when all of a sudden her water breaks. Thomas is born and the boss of the slaughterhouse sees Thomas being born. Soon after the birth of Thomas, his mother dies. In the next scene of the film, we are able to see how a woman named Luda May Hewitt hears a baby cry in a dumpster and the baby was Thomas. As the film goes on we see that Thomas is being raised by the women Luda May and her family. Thomas was adopted by the Hewitt family. His mother died and he had no other biological family to care for him. He grew up knowing that the Hewitt family raised him, but were not his relatives. He also knew that he was thrown in the dumpster. This is a cause of his monstrosity because most adopted children develop feelings of loss, grief, and anger. Thomas grew up with these feelings. He knew the women that raised him wasn’t his biological mother. He felt sadness and anger and ended up hurting other people due to those feelings. He didn’t care if others felt pain. Since he was already feeling the grief of being adopted and being thrown out as an infant, he would care less if others felt the same way.
In a book, Cannibalism: A Perfect Natural History the author Bill Schutt says, “Cannibalism might be more frequent or more readily acceptable in cultures.” (176). In the culture and household where Thomas was living and being raised in were cannibalists. They ate human flesh. The Hewitts actually worked at the Blair Meat Co. where they would kidnap people, murder them, and butcher their flesh with chainsaws and knives. Thomas was growing to that. He would eat humans with his family. In all of the films of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Thomas is shown killing and torturing people. He would keep them in a basement and kill them with a chainsaw. In the films, we see how his family is enjoying dinner eating the humans in which Thomas has killed. His family would use Thomas to hunt for them since he was a tall and broad man. Thomas is a monster because of the culture he was raised in. He grew up hunting for people and killing so his family would have a nice dinner. This is another cause of why he became this terrible monster. The culture he was living in made him this murderous person.
When Thomas was born he was discovered with a facial disfiguration that causes deformities and tumors on his face. He also had mental retardation. A doctor diagnosed him as suffering from a type of neurodegeneration at age 12. He would wear leather to cover his face because many people would call him names. It is shown in the 2006 Texas Chainsaw Massacres film that Thomas is called, “animal,” “prick,” and “hideous.” He worked at a meat factory where his boss would mistreat him and call him names. Out of anger, Thomas killed his boss with a hammer. He later found a chainsaw in the factory and started using it as a weapon. People were not really nice to him because of his skin deformities. In a book, The Horror Film, written by Stephen Prince states, “Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre sports a rotting and grotesque mask made from the skin of his former victims” (227). Not only would Thomas kill humans to eat, but he would cut off their faces to wear them as masks. Thomas is never shown by his real face. He either had it covered by leather or he would have a human face stitched up to his face. The reason why Thomas would wear these masks were because of all the terrible names he would be called. This shows another cause of why he killed and hurt many people. Thomas was not equally accepted by others due to his skin deformities.
Some of these causes also fall and connects with the monster theories told by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. One of the theories is called “The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference” where this theory says, “always in danger of exposing the suture that bind its desparate elements into a single, unnatural body” (9). This theory is telling us that society makes it a monster because it is different and because it does not look normal. This relates to Thomas because he was born with his skin deformity which was most noticeable in the face. He looked different from everybody else. He was called many crucial names. Not only was he physically different, but he was different mentally too. He had retardation. Society made him into this monster because of those names and how he was treated differently. Another theory that can also connect into the causes of his monstrosity is “The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body” where this theory says “The monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment – of a time, a feeling, and a place” (2). Thomas was born and thrown out and was later raised by the Hewitt family. The Hewitt family involved in cannibalism. It was a part of their culture and Thomas was raised into that culture. In the time when Thomas was born, which was 1930’s, was the era in which cannibalism was more involved. A greater amount of people was involved in cannibalism in that time than now. These two theories can help support the causes of why Thomas Hewitt became a mass murderer.
To conclude, Thomas was a normal human being that was just mentally sick and suffered from skin conditions. The insane family that raised him were a big part to his monstrosity. They taught him how to kill and eat people. Thomas was the source of their dinners. In some way, the Hewitt family manipulated Thomas by telling him that killing people was not bad and was necessary for their food. Not only was the family to blame, but society. People calling him “animal” and “retard” affected him. He felt anger and sadness and just wanted other people to accept him and not call him names or see him differently. The last reason to why he was this horrifying person was because of his past. His mother died and him being adopted hurt him emotionally. The Hewitts did love him and cared a lot about him, but were not his actual family. He was thrown out to the dumpster as an infant because there was nobody to care for him. These reasons are what made him into a bad person and were the growth to his monstrosity that was shown in films.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota, 1997
Prince, Stephen. The Horror Film. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Schutt, Bill, and Patricia Wynne. Cannibalism: a Perfectly Natural History. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2018.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. New Line Cinema, Metropolitan Films. October 6, 2006.
Zimmerman, Kurt. “American Book Collecting.” Gunnar Hansen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre Legend and Bookman, 1 Jan. 1970,
“JUMP CUT A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA.” Mothers, Madness and drama by Gretchen Bisplinghoff,
“Lee Bros. Meat Processing Plant.” Headhunter’s Horror House Wiki, headhuntershorrorhouse.wikia.com/wiki/Lee_Bros._Meat_Processing_Plant.