Study Guide

We Need to Talk About Kevin The Squirt Gun

By Lionel Shriver

The Squirt Gun

Squirt Guns Don't Kill People; Kevin Kills People

"The look, the feel, the sound, so real. Entertech." In the 1980s, toy company LJN found itself in hot water from parents because of their realistic line of squirt guns. We don't know what brand of squirt gun Kevin gets, but it doesn't matter. Whatever the gun looks like, Kevin wreaks havoc with it.

Eva and Franklin give Kevin the squirt gun when he's four, shortly before they move. Kevin uses the gun to squirt the movers and say they peed their pants. When Eva takes it away, Franklin sides with Kevin and shoots Eva in the face with the gun. This might be the moment when Kevin learns how easy it is to turn his parents against each other.

After Kevin squirts Eva's maps with red ink, she stomps on the gun and destroys it. In retrospect, Eva thinks Kevin probably appreciated that she did this. "Since he had become attached to it, he was glad to see it go." Kevin is a person who wants to cut all ties, even to inanimate objects.

The gun is brought up during Eva's civil trial, but no one makes too much of a big deal out of it, for a change. When a school shooting happens, someone is always looking to place blame. The mother. Video games. Violent music. Squirt guns. No one in this book tries to sue a squirt gun company, and Eva knows it isn't the squirt gun's "fault" that Kevin ended up the way he did. It wasn't the gun that was a warning sign; it was the malicious way Kevin used it.