Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

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Columbine: Chapter 42 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After beginning their diversion program, Eric and Dylan receive their yearbooks, and write notes to each other referencing their anger over their January arrests and swearing “godlike revenge” when “NBK” rolls around. The notes confirm, for Fuselier, that Eric’s arrest was an accelerant to murder, though not the cause. Eric defaces both Dylan’s yearbook and his own, drawing swastikas and dead bodies throughout. He writes that he could “taste the blood now.” The notes that Eric and Dylan write to each other are a “huge leap of faith,” symbolizing their trust in one another and their commitment to carrying out NBK together. Dylan writes “page after page of specific murder plans” in Eric’s yearbook—the boys are “at each other’s mercy now,” Cullen writes, due to the incriminating notes, and they know they will “both go down together [in] mutually assured destruction.”
Eric and Dylan are binding themselves together in their desire for destruction in a concrete way. The boys cannot turn back now—there is incriminating evidence against both of them, and they must proceed forward with the attack or go down together before their dreams can be realized, resulting in another humiliating failure and, without a doubt, even more legal trouble.
Themes
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While Dylan focuses only on describing their planned attack, Eric’s visions of murders are much more grandiose. Cullen writes that “neither addressed the discrepancy” between their desires in writing.
Cullen once again hammers home the differences between Eric and Dylan’s motivations for and investments in the attack.
Themes
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The boys’ behavior “shift[s] dramatically in reverse directions” once they begin their diversion program. Eric leans into attempting to charm and impress Andrea Sanchez, while Dylan consistently misses appointments, falls behind on his assigned community service, and starts failing two classes. Though Dylan had written excited notes to Eric about NBK, in reality he did not plan to go through with it—he was too mired in his own depression.
Eric is energized by the opportunity to lie and deceive as retribution for what he sees as his unfair arrest. Dylan, however, is completely demoralized, and does not even plan to go through with the only thing that had been providing him with hope or excitement—or escape.
Themes
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Eric earns a raise and takes on a second job, telling friends and family that he is saving up to buy a new computer—when in reality, he is planning on building an arsenal of ordnance. Dylan quits his job at Blackjack and does not find a replacement job over the summer—he does not contribute much financially to the attack at all.
Once again, Eric is shown to be motivated and eager while Dylan drags his heels and continues to mire himself in inaction and misery.
Themes
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As part of their diversion program, the boys are required to write letters of apology to the owner of the van. Eric’s is deeply contrite and remorseful—“he knew exactly what empathy looked like.” In his journal, “at almost the exact same time,” according to Dr. Fuselier, Eric writes an angry rant declaring that the owner of the van deserved to be “shot” for leaving his belongings “in plain sight,” citing “NATURAL SELECTION” in all caps. Eric hides his contempt from Andrea Sanchez, and brags privately about his lies to her. Eventually he complains to her about his medication, and tells her the antidepressants he’d been described aren’t doing enough. Eric’s psychiatrist switches him from Zoloft to Luvox, though Cullen says it is unclear what Eric’s aim was in complaining to his psychiatrist. Fuselier, too, says he would be “surprised” to find that Eric was being honest with, and not attempting to manipulate, his therapist.
Eric’s many manipulations of those around him continue to go off without a hitch. His psychopathic brain enables him to lie and deceive skillfully and without remorse. Privately, Eric is angrier than ever, and is making more and more concrete plans and taking serious action toward the completion of his attack on Columbine.
Themes
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It’s difficult for Eric to fool his father Wayne. Wayne’s last entry in his journal, in April—after the orientation meeting for the diversion program—outlines a list of Eric’s behavioral issues and restrictions to help combat them, including a curfew and apparently a loss of TV, phone, and computer privileges. Cullen writes that because the Harrises have been so reluctant to talk to anyone since the massacre, it is difficult to get anything but a murky idea of their family dynamic.
Though Cullen does not know what the Harrises were thinking, or what things were like at home for Eric during this time period, he writes that they were seemingly desperate to rein their son in and regain some control over him—though clearly they failed to do so.
Themes
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Though Dylan excitedly discusses NBK with Eric, he is “privately juggling suicide or true love.” He writes Harriet, the girl with whom he’s obsessed, a love letter, but never delivers it. Cullen wonders if he ever intended to. Dylan writes in his diary that he plans to kill himself on August 10th, and never take part in the attack at all.
Dylan’s messy inner life stands in stark contrast to how he presents himself to the rest of the world, and even to Eric. Just as Eric is deceiving those around him, Dylan, too, is deceiving Eric—though he is not quite as skilled at it.
Themes
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Eric writes threatening and anonymous emails to Brooks Brown, and his parents once again called the cops. A deputy adds a report of the incident to Eric’s file. The Browns’ garage is defaced with a paintball gun, and they once again call the police. A deputy reports that there are “no suspects, no leads.” Meanwhile, Eric is paired with a new counselor in the diversion program, Bob Krieghauser, who writes that he is “doing well.” 
Once again, the Jefferson County sheriff’s department fails to take Eric seriously as a threat, or to follow up on complaints about him in any real way. Meanwhile, Eric has a new person in his life to deceive, and does so with apparent skill.
Themes
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As senior year starts, Eric continues to guide Dylan toward the realization of NBK. The two boys are in a video production class together, and they make “fictional vignettes [featuring] aloof tough guys protecting misfits from hulking jocks.” The boys take storylines from Eric’s journal, and think it’s “hilarious” to have their plans “right in the open.”
The boys are “leaking” here, or dropping hints about their plans right out in the open. Their fantasies of violence and retaliation are on display for everyone around them to see—the easiest form of deception.
Themes
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Eric writes an essay for school titled “Is Murder or Breaking the Law Ever Justified?” Cullen writes that Eric “took on a provocative issue and gauged exactly how far he could run with it.” His paper argues that killing is justified in “extreme situations,” and through it Eric once again “leaks” to those around him without giving his plans away. Eric also writes papers on “The Nazi Culture,” featuring graphic images of piled dead bodies and Nazis’ torture of prisoners. His teachers do not suspect a thing, and write that his papers are “incredible.” Another essay mirrors his apology letter from diversion by describing his felony, and how remorseful he is about it. His teacher praises him. In his journal, Eric brags about his “performances” and continues to gleefully anticipate his attack on Columbine.
As Eric grows closer and closer to the realization of his dreams of annihilation, he becomes even more cavalier about leaking information and pushing the envelope at school. His fascination with Nazi culture, and the death and cruelty the Nazis espoused, should have raised flags at school—however, his teachers failed to look closely enough at what was really going on with their student, as he continued to deceive them with just as much reassuring work. 
Themes
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