Study Guide

We Need to Talk About Kevin The Home

By Lionel Shriver

The Home

I seem to finally be learning what you were always trying to teach me, that my own country is as exotic and even as perilous as Algeria. (1.3)

Eva is a world traveler who doesn't feel comfortable in America. It's ironic that she starts to see it has her home after she's trapped there, tethered to her convict son, and less a part of her community than ever before.

So far I've been able to work it back on again, but the stump of the lock shaft teases me with intimations of my mother: unable to leave the house. (1.22)

Instead of home being where the heart is, it seems that home is where a person is trapped, and he or she just has to accept it. Eva has to try hard to not let her home take over her life.

Home is precisely what Kevin has taken from me. (4.48)

Eva thinks this, but is this exactly true? It seems to us like Franklin was more responsible for taking her home, long before Kevin committed his crime.

"But I love New York!" I sounded like a bumper sticker. (10.119)

If Eva had to pick a place in the U.S. to call her home, it of course would be New York City, a place where she can travel to a foreign country without having to go more than a few blocks. When Franklin moves the family away from New York, this action isolates Eva the globetrotter even further.

I hated that house. On sight. It never grew on me, either. Every morning I woke to its glib surfaces, its smart design features, its sleek horizontal contours, and actively hated it. (13.1)

Eva likes life a little rough around the edges. She feels at home when she's away from it, roughing it in a foreign country. Being trapped in this house is like being a kid with an overactive imagination forced to play on a playground coated entirely in rubber. It's not safe; it's stifling.

Franklin, the whole house was on Zoloft. (13.16)

This is a funny comment, and it's interesting, too, because you can see many parallels between Kevin and the house itself. Like the house, Kevin also has a glib surface and does his best to look sleek, smooth, and safe. And later, he too requests to go on anti-depressants, but only to use as a defense in his trial.

Confoundingly then, this Gladstone Xanadu, beam by beam, would have materialized into a soul-destroying disappointment. (13.21)

Eva draws parallels between the house and her marriage, too. She and Franklin decreed that having a baby would be the best thing for their marriage, but like this house, it turns out to be far from a stately pleasure dome for Eva.

"You can burn that house for all I care," I said. "I hate it. I've always hated it." (27.150)

Eva ends up hating her house even more, which we didn't think was possible. But then again, she didn't think it was possible for her son to kill her husband and her daughter, so it's completely understandable she'd want to torch the place.

I knew immediately that I would have to sell AWAP, and I would have to sell our awful, empty house. Now that was cleansing. (28.71)

Eva doesn't get to burn the place to the ground, but she experiences her own cleansing by selling the house. Yet she also sells her company. Eva is a person who has always felt more at home at work than at home, so why is this cleansing for her as well?

In the meantime, there is a second bedroom in my serviceable apartment. The bedspread is plain. A copy of Robin Hood lies on the bookshelf. And the sheets are clean. (28.73)

This is the book's final line, and it might be surprising to many people: Eva has a home ready for Kevin when he gets out of jail. It seems like she'll try to rebuild a home for the two of them. Will she be successful?