Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

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Columbine: Chapter 44 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Eric begins putting his arsenal together just before Halloween of 1998, building “cricket” bombs from fireworks and several batches of pipe bombs. He charts his “production data,” rating his creations from “excellent” to “O.K.” Eric’s journal entries from this time period express a desire to “destroy as much as possible” and not get “sidetracked by feelings of sympathy [or] mercy.” Though Eric was a psychopath and unable to feel empathy, Cullen writes, he did comprehend the pain he would cause others—and still longed for it.
Eric continues to self-aggrandize his success as he builds his arsenal. He is consumed by anger, rage, and a desire for destruction, and wants to inflict as much suffering as he possibly can.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Eric continued to “script Columbine as a made-for-TV murder,” using fear and terror as his “ultimate” weapons. He had adopted terrorist tactics in order to ensure that the fear he was going to create would endure, and was planning an act of “performance violence” that would play out like a piece of “theater.” He made reference to his “audience” and enjoyed anticipating their confusion and grief. The large-scale “performance” Eric was planning, Cullen writes, would ultimately fail—he would not top the Oklahoma City bombing record, which he hoped to do, and would be “lumped in with the pathetic losers who shot people.”
Eric had visions of glory and drama that rivaled the violent movie—“Natural Born Killers”—that served as his inspiration. He wanted to captivate the world and force as many people as possible to watch the violence he would inflict and know he was responsible. He could not see his own failure looming before him, so narcissistic and laser-focused was his brain.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Eric is caught with alcohol, and lies spectacularly to his father to get out of trouble. He manages to convince his diversion program officer that everything at home is “great.” His grades are up, and his teachers leave “glowing” comments on his end-of-term report cards. Dylan, meanwhile, continues to “tank.” Dylan’s diversion officer warns him that if he does not improve, he could be terminated from the program and sent to prison.
Eric and Dylan remain on divergent paths, even as they plan their attack together. Eric is better at deception, and Dylan is distracted by his own torment, self-loathing, and conflict over what to do about the fast-approaching date of the attack.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Eric continues building pipe bombs and attempting to acquire guns. A recent bill passed by Congress, the Brady Bill, requires background checks, and Eric rails against the bill in his journal, writing “its [sic] not like I’m some psycho who would go on a shooting spree.” Eric has plenty of explosives, but now he is in desperate need of guns and ammo.
Eric was self-aware enough to make macabre jokes about his plans and designs. Though he continued to assemble his arsenal, he still lacked some crucial components of it—namely the firepower which would make him the fearsome killing machine he so desperately longed to be.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
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