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Transcript of Columbine
Appeal to Pathos
Cullen uses a variety of irony to emphasize the speculation and invalid assumptions produced by reporters, eye witnesses, and the general public. His use of verbal irony to induce sarcasm is exhibited in the passage referring to the false allegations made on the shooters' personas: "... TV reporters depicted the boys as a single entity. 'Were they outcasts?' Always they. And always the attributes fitting the school shooter profile - itself a myth... Few knew the killers, but they did not volunteer that information, and they were not asked. Yeah, outcasts, I heard they were." Verbal irony can also be found when Cullen mentions Eric's irritation of the Brandy Bill, preventing him from buying guns. "It's not like I'm some psycho who would go on a shooting spree." Ironically, Eric is a psychopath, and he does go on a killing spree, a quite large one. Cullen also uses dramatic irony to entice the reader and add to the tension of the story. He uses Linda and Dave Sanders to cause the reader to feel empathy and compassion: "They rushed out to separate cars and realized they had forgot to kiss good-bye.
They always kissed good-bye. Dave blew her a kiss from the driveway." In this case, the reader knows that this is Dave and Linda's last good-bye. Cullen employs a rhetorical question while describing Robyn Anderson in the midst of chaos outside the school. "Who would do something like this? Robyn asked her girlfriends. Who would be this retarded? The audience knows the answer to that question, however Robyn does not yet realize who the killers were and how she was a part of the event indirectly. One of the more controversial points Cullen makes in Columbine is the irony of how Cassie Bernall is not truly a martyr, although the entire world believe her to have defended her savior. And even though news eventually came out about the myth, people refused to give up the martyr story. "The evidence against martyrdom was overwhelming, but... 'the church won't accept it.'" The author's application of irony throughout the book helps to portray the differing accounts at Columbine and how the public was still in the dark long after the event.
April 20, 1999
Vol XCIII, No. 311
Simple Sentences and Tone
Nature vs. nurture:
One underlying theme of the book is the common psychological debate of nature vs. nurture. Are people born evil, or do certain influences cause them to commit terrible acts? Many people speculated about “the roles of violent films, music, and video games,” (p. 197). Other survivors blamed poor parenting. However, the book reveals that much of the boys’ actions can be attributed to underlying psychological disorders. Dylan was diagnosed with a depressive disorder, whereas Eric was classified as a psychopath. Eric was a master at deceiving both family and other authorities; his parents were unable to predict the event, which partially disqualifies the claim that flawed upbringing was the reason for the massacre. This theme causes the reader to question the definition of true evil. Should Eric and Dylan be held completely accountable for their actions, or do their predispositions and environments excuse them?
Media and police:
Another piece that stood out to us from the book was the inappropriate way in which both the media and the police handled the situation. The police force was irresponsible in attempting to cover up vital information that they had received earlier: Eric’s website. They constantly lied about the extent of their knowledge concerning the case. during the incident itself, the police were extremely slow to respond. The incident began at 11:19 A.M. “Law enforcement would not...advance on the building until shortly after noon,” (p. 57). If they had reacted more quickly, lives may have been saved. The media played a significant role in causing mass confusion and panic. They perpetuated completely inaccurate conspiracy theories, including one that held that Eric and Dylan were part of the Trench Coat Mafia. Both law enforcement and media should be held accountable for their failure to handle to situation properly.
Cullen uses very concise and simplified diction throughout the book. He is not attempting to show off ridiculous vocabulary, or prove that he is an extremely talented writer, capable of putting together extensive sentences. He uses short sentences that describe the details of the shooting and the plans for the shooting so that the reader may easily follow along and not become confused throughout the book. Because Cullen is trying to share a story of an actual event, with precise details and in a strict order, he is forced to write differently than if he was creating his own story or was adding his own detail. He also maintains a very solemn and dark tone throughout the book. It is understood that columbine is a tragic shooting, but the eerie feel that Cullen provides helps to always maintain a deep melancholy. He is slowly leading the reader towards the reasons why two young boys would feel the need to kill and the aftermath, leaving the reader interested and always having questions.
" Eric wheeled around and shot at anyone he could see....He hit Rachel in the chest and head. Rachel died instantly." - pg.46
" Danny's face hit the concrete sidewalk. Death was almost instantaneous. Lance went down on the grass. He blacked out, but continued to breathe." -pg. 46
Dave Cullen uses pathos through out the characters to show us how the characters actually felt in the novel. It makes sense for him to show emotion through the characters because they are actually the ones that have experienced the event. A woman with a baby wrote "Evil Bastard" on Dylan's cross. (pg191) This woman specifically tells the reporters that she would spit on the grieving on the cross. This would clearly demonstrate how much anger and hatred there was toward the killers. Another one is the scene when the parents and students have to go back to the school to retrieve all their items. The shooting has passed and everyone has to face their fears. It helps the reader imagine the circular cycle of emotions going all around in the parents and the students. Everyone was severely still traumatized and scared for their life from just going back to Columbine. There were students that were crying because it was such an intense memory.
"Dear God, dear God, why is this happening?" Cassie asked. "I just want to go home." (pg 227)
"These people love you," the boys said, This is why you need to live." (pg 142)
"Thinking of suicide gives me hope that i'll finally not be at war w. myself, the world, the universe-my mind, body, everything at PEACE-me-my soul(existence)(pg 174)
"Misty was bursting with pride, and her husband, Brad, was too. (pg180)
One rhetorical tool that Cullen uses throughout this novel is zooming in and panning out.This rhetorical tool is used to closely examine certain people or a certain event then pan out to how that has to do with the rest of the story. This is helpful because it helps the reader learn more about each person. In chapter 40, "Psychopath", Cullen zooms in on Eric and how he was psychopathic. Cullen does this by examining Eric's website and diaries and giving the reader direct quotes from the sources to demonstrate his mental disposition. "...you aren't human. you are a robot...and if you pissed me off in the past, you will die if i see you." This is one quote that Cullen pulled directly from Eric's journal to show Eric's mind set. By learning what Eric wrote about in his journal and on his website, the reader can see further into who Eric was and how he thought, thus seeing why he might have committed the crime. Another place that Cullen uses this rhetorical tool is in chapter 50, "The Basement Tapes". In this chapter Cullen zooms in on the videos left behind that were taken by Eric and Dylan. Cullen chooses certain quotes from these tapes in an attempt to portray Eric and Dylan's personalities to the reader. "You guys will all die.....you all need to die. We need to die too." This is a quote that Cullen decided to add that came from the boys' revealing videos. By zooming in on these tapes and what Eric and Dylan were saying, Cullen gives the reader a clearer look at both Eric and Dylan's personalities. After zooming in on a specific person or event, Cullen pans back out to the big story: the shooting. Zooming in on certain characteristics of a person or event is like looking through a microscope; the details get bigger.