Columbine by Dave Cullen, Part 2: Chapters 20–30

Dave Cullen writes about the Columbine shooting in a way that reads like a novel. The way he describes the murders and the days following makes it seem like fiction rather than an event that actually took place. This being said, I think that the way Cullen gives such detailed information about how the victims and their families were forever effected is what really makes us think of the victims as real people and not just characters in a book.

While reading I noticed that some of the common misconceptions about the shooting were still believed today, over seventeen years after the shooting took place. The most common misconception about Columbine is that Eric and Dylan were outcasts who were bullied by their more popular classmates. The reason this myth is believed by so many is due to the false media coverage during and after the shooting. There were over 2,000 students at Columbine which means that the majority of the student body didn’t know who Eric and Dylan were prior to the shooting. Eric and Dylan actually had a large group of friends and were both good students and participated in school activites. Another myth of the Columbine shootings is that Eric and Dylan targetted specific groups during the shootings, such as people of color, Christians, or jocks. Besides the false media coverage, I think the reason that so many people believed this is because it gave a motive for their actions. The truth is that Eric and Dylan just wanted people to die. They didn’t care who, they just wanted a massive number of people to be killed.

Several chapters in this section of the book describe Eric and Dylan’s childhood. They both came from average middle class families and they both had an older brother. Eric came from a military family and had a father who “did not tolerate misbehavior in his home” (112). Dylan was very intelligent and was in the gifted program at his school by the time he was in the third grade. Dylan was sometimes prone to dramatic outbursts when he would get overwhelmed or frustrated. After the shootings vicitms and their families (understandably) placed the blame on the parents of the shooters. They needed to blame someone and the people who were to blame were dead.

This part of the book also documents the beginning of the healing process following the shooting. It follows some of the vicitms and their families as they try to make sense of the tragedy. Something I find comforting is that the community, especially the student body came together after the shooting to help each other begin to heal.

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