Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

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Columbine: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Eric exhibited “telltale signs of a particular breed of killer” even before adolescence, and as a teen he “settled into a live of petty crime.” The symptoms of what was to come, Cullen writes, were “stark [only] in retrospect.”
Eric was skilled in covering up the truth of his personality, even as he slid deeper and deeper into dangerous territory.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
In the journals he left behind, Eric wrote “frequently and fondly” of his childhood. He especially loved fireworks and explosions, and shared in his notebook a happy memory of one particular Fourth of July celebration.
Eric remembers, in his journals, feeling peace as a child, especially around explosives.
Themes
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Eric was a military brat, and lived in five states over a period of fifteen years. His friends “came and went,” and his parents Wayne and Kathy tried as hard as they could to “smooth over the disruptions.” Wayne—a military man—had no tolerance for misbehavior, and took a carefully-considered approach to each of his children’s punishments. As detectives delve into Eric’s past, they discover “contradictions.” He had been friends with minorities, and an “enthusiast” when it came to sports—a dissonance in his Nazi-obsessed, jock-hating recent profile.
Though Eric’s parents claimed to be on top of his behavior issues, they were largely unaware of what was really going on with their son. The profile of Eric that has emerged—a profile which Wayne and Kathy are purportedly shocked to discover—has some contradictions, though, revealing that there had to have been some motivation for Eric’s violence other than just a hatred of jocks and minorities.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
As an eleven-year-old, Eric discovered the video game Doom, and became obsessed. Behind the screen of a computer, “he could triumph over thousands of strangers he had never met.” In 1993, when Eric was in seventh grade, the Harrises moved to Jeffco, to a nice neighborhood just two miles south of Columbine High.
Eric was obsessed with domination and glory from an early age, and was already set in his ways by the time he and his family arrived in Jeffco.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
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