Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Columbine can help.

Columbine: Chapter 46 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Eric acquires his first shotgun on November 22nd, 1998. He names it “Arlene.” After recruiting their friend Robyn Anderson to purchase the gun for them—she was eighteen years old, old enough to buy one—Eric and Dylan travel with Robyn to a local gun show and acquire two shotguns. Eric refers to this as “the point of no return.” Eric and Dylan saw the barrels off their weapons “way below the legal limit,” and take them out to the woods to shoot the first week of December. Both boys realize that they now have the power to kill people—Eric’s sadistic streak and callousness combine to turn him toward murder. 
Eric lovingly names his shotgun, which symbolizes his acquisition, at last, of the physical power to carry out his deepest fantasies. Eric himself is aware enough to know that this is a turning point in his course toward murder. He and Dylan are both excited by the acquisition, and look forward to their shared dreams of violence.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Eric orders ammunition, and the gun shop calls his home phone when his order comes in. Eric’s father answers the phone. He assures the man on the other end that he did not order any ammo, and neither Wayne nor the salesman ask any more questions of one another—each assumes it is a wrong number, and the call is over. Wayne is suspicious, but Eric lies, writing in his journal that he can “‘BS so fucking well.’”
A close call almost ends Eric’s plans for a violent attack, but again, due to a combination of failure on the part of a third party and Eric’s ability to lie and deceive people skillfully, he is able to stay on course.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Eric loses interest in his journal after the acquisition of the guns. Dylan has not written in his journal for five months either, but takes to it again after a bad meeting with his diversion officer. In the entry, dated January 20th, Dylan describes “‘going NBK w. eric’” as “the best way to be free.” As Eric continues to solidify plans for the attack, Dylan returns to his journal frequently, writing “short and erratic entries” which are mostly focused on “love.”
Dylan is clearly in a depressed, desperate state of mind, feeling that he has failed in securing love and affection. Yet he still primarily desires self-annihilation rather than the indiscriminate suffering and destruction that Eric wants.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon