Analysis Of Dave Cullen's Columbine

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Hysteria. Terror. Paranoia. All words used to describe feelings after a school disturbance. Reports of such emergencies from mainstream media outlets cause some to conclude extraordinary security breaches happen on an almost daily basis. However, schools are actually safeguarded; in recent years, protocols have been installed in schools across the United States to ensure safety. The catalyst: nationwide panic and suffering after an act of terror at a high school in Littleton, Colorado. Journalist and author Dave Cullen, in his book, Columbine, narrates the horror surrounding this shooting. Cullen’s purpose is to inform readers by captivating their attention utilizing emotional language. He establishes contrasting characters and alludes to significant…show more content…
Juxtaposing Dylan’s and Eric’s personality traits defies the readers’ expectations. Cullen first uses opposing language to focus on the boys’ conflicting views on the attack. Dylan, Cullen argues, visualized the attack as an escape from reality: he didn’t plan to follow through with it, simply fantasizing about a single attack. Eric, however, truly wanted to destroy everyone. Later, this contrast becomes more prevalent when Cullen remarks, “Eric launched a new charm offensive… he worked his ass off to excel. Dylan didn’t even try to impress Andrea” (258-259). The decision to place the sentences consecutively helps the readers gain insight into the killers’ minds before the attack. By starkly contrasting the murderers’ thoughts, it corrects the misconception that they targeted specific groups of people because they were bullied outcasts. Instead, the readers realize, Eric was quite charming. There was no specific “hit list”, as the media hypothesized, rather the killers planned to murder…show more content…
Dylan and Eric wrote detailed murder plans in the one another’s yearbook, knowing, “his buddy could get him imprisoned at any time, though they would both go down together. Mutually assured destruction” (258). In the cold war era, an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union meant a large arsenal of atomic weaponry on each side. Launching an attack on the opposing side meant a guaranteed, immediate retaliation. Both parties would be irrevocably damaged- mutually assured destruction. Similarly, one boy choosing to show his yearbook to others would reveal his own secret soon after. The choice to indirectly reference the cold war evokes unpleasant emotions in the readers. The cold war was a fear-filled time in history, as was the aftermath of the Columbine shooting. The sympathy the readers feel towards those affected by the cold war is transposed to those impacted by the shooting, as Cullen

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