Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

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Columbine: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As busloads of students arrive at the rendezvous point at the nearby Leawood Elementary, parents are both joyful and discouraged. Brian Rohrbough, father of Danny Rohrbough, abandons hope, but Misty Bernall—who has been reunited with her son, Chris, but still has no sign of her daughter Cassie—holds out hope. Parents are told that one more busload of students will be arriving soon, but the bus never comes—the parents whose children have not yet arrived are brought to a separate room and asked to retrieve their children’s dental records for investigators. The Evangelical parents react differently than the “other” parents, responding with songs, prayer, and hope, “at peace” with the fact that their children have gone on to a better place. Of all the Evangelicals, only Misty Bernall is “defiant,” believing that Cassie is still alive.
The parents of the victims of Columbine were given false hope that was then quickly taken away. Cullen’s emphasis on describing the ways the Evangelicals react to the news as opposed to the less religious families shows the feverish dedication to religion that many Jeffco residents have, and foreshadows the powerful role that religion will come to play in the aftermath of the tragedy, as survivors and families grieve.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Religion: Escapism, Evangelism, Opportunism Theme Icon
Mr. D stays with the families, consoling them, even as he fears the rumors he hears about Dave Sanders’ death.
Mr. D once again puts the needs of the Columbine community before his own.
Themes
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Agent Fuselier, exhausted, returns home and hugs his son. Columbine, for him, has been even more “unbearable” than Waco. He holds his son and his wife as he watches the news, grieving for parents whose children have died.
The singular horror of Columbine is conveyed through veteran hostage negotiator Fuselier’s disturbed reaction to the day’s events.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon