Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

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Columbine: Chapter 48 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Eric Harris finds napalm hard to work with. He makes several bad batches, each of which is risky due to the substance’s unstable nature and incredibly time-consuming. Eric takes full charge of building the arsenal of ordnance for the attack—Dylan, Cullen writes, “seemed to be no help with any of it.” Eric, showing the textbook recklessness of a psychopath, plans to walk the bombs right into the school, hiding them in duffel bags.
Eric is much more motivated to proceed with preparations for the attack, even though he is at a risky stage now. Dylan is removed from these preparations, suggesting his lack of motivation. Eric seems either to not understand, or not care about, the risks of pulling off the attack—failure has not even crossed his mind, so self-assured and egotistic are his inner thoughts.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The boys finish their diversion program. Dylan received a report describing his potential despite his struggles, while Eric’s report is “glowing.”
Eric once again skillfully deceives a person in a position of authority, while Dylan barely makes the cut.
Themes
Failure Theme Icon
Cullen observes that while Eric’s turning point toward murder was the arrest for theft in January of 1998, Dylan’s came later, in February of 1999. Dylan, who had been conflicted about taking part in NBK, writes a short story that month describing “an angry man in black gunning down a dozen ‘preps,’” and details of the man’s rampage are lifted directly out of Eric’s plan for NBK. Dylan’s creative writing teacher is impressed by the writing, but “deeply disturbed” by what it depicts, and asks to speak to him about the piece in private. Though Dylan insists it’s “just a story,” his teacher calls Tom and Sue Klebold, who don’t seem “too worried.” Kelly turns the story into Dylan’s school counselor, who also “downplay[s]” the story’s gravity. Around this time, Dylan writes in his journal that his journey seeking love and happiness has been a failure, and that Eric offers him hope.
Cullen attempts to track what the turning point for Dylan was. A depressed and inwardly angry young man, it’s difficult to discern exactly what convinced Dylan to take part in the killing after all—but Dylan left behind enough of a record that it seems like his dwindling hope for ever finding love or happiness drove him further into Eric’s web.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Eric and Dylan hike to Rampart Range for “target practice,” and bring Mark Manes, Phil Duran, and Mark’s girlfriend along with them. They take videos of themselves shooting bowling pins and pine trees, and impress themselves with their weapons’ immense power. They discover that with the shotguns, they have truly become “killing machines.” The boys would make a total of three target-practice trips with Mark Manes, and Dylan would leak the fact that he and Eric had acquired shotguns and had practiced with them to Zack Heckler
In another example of the boys’ friends being either totally oblivious or deeply in denial as to the boys’ plans, arms dealers Mark Manes and Phil Duran join them for target practice. The boys are stunned by how much power they finally wield, and this, Cullen argues, could be considered the final push in confidence Dylan needed to solidify his participation in the attack.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
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