Study Guide

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin Summary

In April 1999, Drew Barrymore had Never Been Kissed, Cher told everyone to "Believe," and two kids shot up a high school in Columbine, Colorado. One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong. School shootings shouldn't belong anywhere in the country, but they happen, and on April 8, 1999, fictional Kevin Khatchadourian kommits a killer krime of his own, trapping nine classmates and a teacher and killing most of them with a bow and many arrows.

Over a year later, Kevin's mother, Eva, begins to write letters to her husband, Franklin. They have been separated since Kevin's crime. Having a psychopath for a son will put some strain on a marriage, that's for sure. In her letters, Eva tries to work out what went wrong. Who is to blame for Kevin's actions? Eva herself, the cold and distant mother? Kevin, who seems to have been evil from birth? Or Franklin, the overenthusiastic, enabling father?

Eva walks us through a timeline of her life. Kevin is born, and she feels no love for the child who won't nurse. She's unsure if Kevin won't nurse because she doesn't love him or if she doesn't love him because he won't nurse. These types of conundrums are typical for this story.

As Kevin grows up, he acts out. He pulls hair. He shoots grape juice over Eva's white clothes with a squirt gun. He makes fun of people in public. He tries to turn classmates in kindergarten against each other. Throughout all this, Eva thinks her son is disturbed. Franklin thinks this is typical boy behavior.

Kevin also wears a diaper until he's six years old, which isn't typical behavior for anyone. He uses his diaper to drive his mother crazy, pooping in it immediately after each time she changes him. One day, she gets so angry, she throws little Kevin across the nursery, breaking his arm on the changing table. He gets a cast for the fractured limb. Surprisingly, Eva doesn't have to lie to her husband about what happened—Kevin lies for Eva. Eva wonders if he does it so that she will somehow owe him later for keeping her secret.

Kevin becomes more and more extreme as a teenager. He wears clothes that are too small, he has a sniveling little friend who throws bricks off a highway overpass, and he humiliates a girl at a school dance. Soon, Kevin is exposing himself to his mother at home, while accusing a teacher at school of sexually abusing him. The allegations are inconclusive.

Curious to see if she's only capable of giving birth to Rosemary's Baby, Eva secretly removes her diaphragm and becomes pregnant with another child against her husband's wishes. This is right up there near "having a psychopath for a son" for things that can destroy a marriage. Eva gives birth to Celia, Kevin's opposite—she's a girl, she's sweet, and she actually likes her mother.

Around this time, school shootings being occurring across the United States. They get a lot of news time, and Kevin doesn't like the boys who commit these shootings. Not because they killed people, but because, according to Kevin, they didn't do it right. Either they got caught, killed themselves, or bungled it, killing fewer people than they should have. Creepy. This isn't just a red flag; this is all the red bedsheets in Bed, Bath, and Beyond stitched together and waving furiously in the breeze.

When Kevin is supposed to be watching Celia, something happens. Not your usual accident—it's not like Celia breaks a leg or gets lost. No, she loses an eyeball. An eyeball. Franklin blames Eva for leaving Liquid Plumr where Celia could reach, but Eva knows Kevin had something to do with it.

Finally, Eva reaches the point where Kevin commits his crime, three days before his sixteenth birthday. His classmates are dead, and Kevin is arrested. Because he is fifteen, he is given a reduced sentence and put in juvenile prison until he turns 18. However, Eva has a surprise for us: Kevin didn't just kill his classmates—he also killed Franklin and Celia. Eva has been writing these letters to her husband in the afterlife. The postage must be astronomical.

By the time Eva finishes writing all her letters, it's April 8, 2001, the two-year anniversary of Kevin's crime. He will be eighteen soon, and he'll be transferred to big-boy prison. Kevin is scared. Eva finally asks him why he did it. Why did he kill all those people? "I used to think I knew," he says. "Now I'm not so sure" (28.52).

At this point, Eva's tired of trying to find a reason for Kevin's actions. She's sick of trying to place the blame on someone. So she tries a new tactic—loving her son. In her lonely apartment by herself, she prepares the spare bedroom for him, for the day he inevitably gets out of jail and comes home.

  • Chapter 1: November 8, 2000

    • "Dear Franklin" (1.1), begins Chapter 1. Who's Franklin? Benjamin Franklin? Franklin D. Roosevelt? Franklin the Turtle?
    • Whoever is writing this letter is writing about a day at the grocery store.
    • The letter-writer seems to be agoraphobic, so just venturing into public is a big deal.
    • Unfortunately, our letter-writer bumped into someone she didn't want to see: Mary Woolford.
    • It seems that our writer, or someone she knows, did something to Mary in the past.
    • Our writer hides in the canned food aisle until Mary leaves, then returns to the shopping cart.
    • At the checkout, the checkout girl makes a big point of checking our narrator's ID and reading out the last name: "Khatchadourian."
    • Khatchadourian makes it home and describes the home in the letter. To keep it short: it's a pit.
    • Our narrator remembers the last house she lived in, and how someone vandalized it with red paint after whatever Kevin did. When are we going to talk about Kevin?
    • Kevin is Eva Khatchadourian's son, and Eva is the one writing the letters. That's one mystery solved.
    • Eva talks about selling the paint-spattered house after cleaning off the paint herself.
    • Eva imagines that the house was purchased because of its notoriety—it was the house of a young killer who did something that "wasn't quite as bad as Columbine" (1.47).
    • No wonder Eva had to move.
  • Chapter 2: November 15, 2000

    • Eva is writing this letter at the time of the Bush/Gore election. No one yet knows who the president will be, and frankly, Franklin, Eva doesn't care.
    • Instead, Eva wants to flashback to 1982, when she and Franklin were deciding whether or not to have a kid.
    • After having dinner with their friends, Brian and Louise, who had given up a life of snorting cocaine for two daughters, Eva and Franklin talk about having a kid.
    • Eva is kind of bored, so instead of, we don't know, reading a book or going to a movie, she thinks she might want a baby.
    • Eva admits in her letter that she "wanted someone else to love" (2.77).
    • Eva recalls another incident in which she and Franklin talked smack about their own parents to their friends.
    • Eva wonders at what point that stops being cute. Maybe they should have a kid who will one day grow up to talk smack about them.
    • Eva wants someone who makes "new stories, about which [she] would have new opinions" (2.104).
    • This is going to be quite a story, we can tell. Be careful what you wish for, Eva.
  • Chapter 3: November 28, 2000

    • Eva recalls disagreements she and Franklin had about her work.
    • Eva writes a travel guide. And being a guide to travel, she travels a lot.
    • Franklin feels like Eva loves her work more than she loves him. Eva's leaving, call the waaahmbulance.
    • Even though it seemed like Eva used to be the driving force to have a baby, now she's scared, too. "Absolutely terrified of having a child" (3.40). It's not like the kid's going to be Damien or something.
    • Or is it?
  • Chapter 4: December 2, 2000

    • Eva tells Franklin about meeting him, as if he wasn't there.
    • Eva is American, but she's a real snooty American, and she never imagined marrying another American, especially one who—are you sitting down?—likes McDonald's.
    • Eva's letter transitions from the past to the present.
    • Eva has returned from visiting Kevin in the Claverack Juvenile Correctional Facility.
    • Kevin tells Eva about a new murdering kid who showed up in the jail.
    • But Kevin feels superior to the other kid, because Kevin feels like his crime was more masterful. "I knew exactly what I was doing," he says, "And I'd do it again" (4.35). All that's missing is a cape and a supervillain chortle.
    • When Eva leaves, Kevin tells her to not come back, because he hates her.
    • "I often hate you, too, Kevin" (4.43), Eva says. Whoa, you go, mama Eva.
  • Chapter 5: December 8, 2000

    • Eva recalls the tipping point, when she finally committed to wanting a child.
    • One night, Franklin doesn't come home. This is in the days before cell phones.
    • Franklin's fine, but Eva doesn't know that. She goes through a few rapid stages of grief and wishes she had someone else to grieve with. A kid, for example.
    • That night, Eva leaves out her diaphragm. Franklin is excited to give this a try until Eva gets pregnant.
    • Eva gets pregnant.
    • And Eva immediately feels resentful, because she now shouldn't drink wine anymore. She has cranberry juice instead. Blech.
    • Eva starts to wonder if maybe this wasn't a good idea after all.
    • But Franklin is so happy. It's too late to turn back.
  • Chapter 6: December 9, 2000

    • Eva recalls a prison-time chat she had with Kevin, when he accused her of never wanting him.
    • "I thought I did," she says. "And your father, he wanted you—desperately" (6.3).
    • Kevin is insulted by the "thought she did" business.
    • Eva tries to explain that motherhood was harder than she expected—and that she never formed an automatic attachment to him.
    • Flashback time.
    • Eva and Franklin kept their own last names when they married. She, Khatchadourian. He, Plaskett.
    • Eva and Franklin decide that if it's a girl, she'll be a Plaskett. If it's a boy, he'll be a Khatchadourian.
    • We make that decision seem easy, but Eva and Franklin actually argue about it for a while. It's the first of many arguments that strain their marriage.
  • Chapter 7: December 12, 2000

    • In the present, the Supreme Court is still trying to decide who the president will be: Bush or Gore.
    • Eva gets thinking about how she doesn't really care about anything anymore, not after the trial.
    • It seems that after Kevin's crime, Mary Woolford, the woman from the grocery store in Chapter 1, filed a civil suit against Eva.
    • Mary's daughter was killed by Kevin, and Mary was shopping for a settlement.
    • Instead of settling, Eva took her to trial, against advice from legal counsel.
    • Eva was angry, not really at Mary, but at the hypocrisy of the United States legal system: she can be innocent until proven guilty but sued for absolutely anything, and regardless of whose fault it really is, still be out thousands of dollars in legal fees.
    • This gets Eva thinking about her own hypocrisies, like wanting a baby because she was bored.
    • Eva writes to Franklin about how she may have seemed stoic during her pregnancy, but it was an act. She hated every minute of it.
    • Eva even tried to pretend that the act of giving birth itself didn't hurt.
    • Eva asks for an epidural, but by that point, it's too late. Kevin is almost here.
  • Chapter 8: December 13, 2000

    • Eva wakes up to discover "'Florida' was over" (8.2). No, not in the "sawed off into the Atlantic" sense, but a president had been chosen.
    • Eva flashes back to April 11, 1983—the birth of Kevin.
    • It's not sweet in the least. Kevin doesn't want to be held by Eva, and he doesn't want to be breastfed by her. He seems to hate her immediately.
    • Eva confesses to Franklin that "childbirth had left [her] unmoved" (8.29). Before this letter, she would never have admitted it to anyone.
  • Chapter 9: December 18, 2000

    • Eva recalls being diagnosed with "postnatal depression" (9.5) back in 1983.
    • Eva tries hard to form an attachment to Kevin, but he just depresses her.
    • After developing mastitis, an infection of the breasts, Eva can't nurse, making it even harder to bond with Kevin.
    • The woman who used to travel all over the world is now stuck at home with a baby who cries and screams all day long.
    • When Franklin comes home, he diminishes the situation, saying Kevin is "crabby" or "fussy" (9.31).
    • The mastitis infection causes Eva's temperature to rise to 104 degrees. Only when Franklin sees how sick Eva is does he display any tenderness toward her.
  • Chapter 10: December 21, 2000

    • A documentary filmmaker named Jack Marlin contacts Eva to get her side of the story.
    • After avoiding most of his questions, she snaps. "I saw it coming for nearly sixteen years. […] A fat lot of good that did" (10.12).
    • Back in the past, Eva and Franklin hire a nanny to help with Kevin.
    • The nanny quits almost instantly, so they hire another: Siobhan.
    • Siobhan is "a saint" (10.26) for being able to tolerate Kevin the demon child.
    • It's not because Kevin behaves around Siobhan. He's as terrible to her as he is to Eva, throwing things and pulling her hair. But Siobhan is able to put up with it.
    • One day, Siobhan decides she has had enough, so she takes her last paycheck and hightails it out of there.
    • Eva decides to have a little talk with Kevin, even though he's still a baby.
    • "You're a little shit" (10.105), she tells baby Kevin, for running Siobhan off.
    • Of course, Franklin walks in and hears Eva talking to the baby this way. He's not pleased.
    • Franklin decides to tell Eva that they'll be moving out of New York City.
    • Eva doesn't want to move, but Franklin tells her she's had enough time in New York to do whatever she wants. It's time to move to a smaller town to raise Kevin.
    • "There are two of us," he says, "and one of you" (10.136). Dang, that's cold.
  • Chapter 11: December 25, 2000

    • After briefly talking about her mother, Eva returns to the past, right after Siobhan left.
    • Around that time, Kevin stopped screaming.
    • Kevin stopped making noise entirely. The silence is almost as loud as his screaming. It's so weird that Franklin and Eva wonder if he has a disability.
    • But soon, Kevin speaks his first words: "I don like dat" (11.20), he says about after-school cartoons. He better not be talking about Muppet Babies.
    • Eva tries to keep Kevin talking. Does he want a cookie?
    • "I hate cookies" (11.29). Okay, this kid is defective.
    • Can Kevin say mommy? "No" (11.33), Kevin says.
    • When Franklin comes home, Kevin clams up, as if his talking were a secret between him and Eva.
    • After Kevin's third birthday, Eva takes one last international trip for work, to Africa, before the family moves.
    • In the airport, Eva decides she hasn't totally committed herself to motherhood, and she resolves to do so when she returns.
    • "I was at my most passionate about our son when he was not there" (11.51), she admits. Yeah, when you'd rather be stuck at the airport after a canceled flight instead of home with your family, there's a problem.
    • Eva closes this letter, "Merry Christmas" (11.81).
  • Chapter 12: December 27, 2000

    • After mentioning a holiday gathering at her mother's house, Eva returns to the past.
    • Eva's also returning from Africa. She promises Kevin to never leave again.
    • Kevin clearly doesn't care.
    • Franklin, Eva, and Kevin stop at a restaurant, where Kevin shows Eva a new trick he learned: to go "NYEE-nyeh nyeh-nyeh, nyeh nyeh-nyeh nyeh-nyeh-nyeeeh" (12.47) to everything she says. Lovely. That sounds like a quote from the latest Adam Sandler movie.
    • Kevin also makes fun of the waitress. Franklin thinks it's funny, but Kevin's behavior is driving Eva crazy.
    • When Kevin won't stop the mocking, Eva slaps him.
    • Franklin is not happy. "Violence is no way to get your point across" (12.80), he tells Eva.
    • When they leave the restaurant, Franklin has a surprise for Eva: he bought them a house while she was gone.
  • Chapter 13: January 1, 2001

    • Eva confesses to Franklin that she hated that new house on sight. It was modern, but it had no character.
    • However, at the time, Eva pretends she loves it.
    • Eva jumps around a bit in this letter, telling Franklin that she went to visit his parents after Thursday, which is what she calls the day of Kevin's incident.
    • Eva and the 'rents have supremely awkward small talk—and supremely awkward big talk about Kevin.
    • Everyone feels uncomfortable because no matter what questions they ask about Kevin, there are no answers.
    • Eva signs off: "Happy New Year, my dear" (13.72).
  • Chapter 14: January 6, 2001

    • Eva recalls a few details of her trial, like when the attorney asked if Eva ever worried about what Kevin did in other family's homes.
    • "Frankly, other children rarely asked Kevin over more than once" (14.11), Eva responds.
    • Eva talks about how Kevin never seemed affected by violence, as if he were born desensitized to it.
    • Then Eva tells the story of Kevin's first gun: a squirt gun.
    • During the move, Kevin loves squirting the movers in the pants and making fun of them for peeing themselves. Charming.
    • Eva tries to discipline Kevin, but Franklin undermines her, saying that Kevin is just having fun.
    • In the new house, Eva hides the squirt gun in a kitchen cabinet. When she finds Kevin climbing up to get it, she calls Franklin in because she isn't tall enough to get Kevin.
    • Franklin, of course, thinks Kevin earned the gun back by making such a death-defying climb.
    • Eva gives the gun back. That night, she wears a white dress, and Kevin fills his gun with grape juice.
    • Later, Eva decorates her office with world maps she has collected.
    • Kevin doesn't understand why, so Eva tries to explain that the maps are special to her. Kevin thinks they're dumb junk, and that she's dumb for putting them up.
    • Eva leaves to answer the phone, and when she returns, Kevin has ruined the maps by squirting them with red and black ink.
    • "Now […] it's special," he says (14.92).
    • Eva snatches the gun and stomps it to bits.
  • Chapter 15: January 13, 2001

    • It's the second Saturday of the month, which means it's time to visit Kevin! Errmm… do we have to?
    • Today, Eva does something different: she makes small talk with another mom in the waiting room.
    • The other mom, Loretta Greenleaf, quickly realizes that Eva is mom to the infamous Kevin Khatchadourian.
    • Loretta asks Eva if she ever figured out why Kevin killed "seven high school students and an English teacher […] and a cafeteria worker" (15.20).
    • Eva says maybe it's her fault.
    • Loretta tells Eva not to be saddled with all the guilt. "It's hard to be a momma" (15.44). And she squeezes Eva's hand.
    • That might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to Eva.
    • Eva is called in to visit Kevin, who talks about how superior he is to all the other kids who have committed school shootings.
    • This is what amounts to prison small talk.
    • Eva is sick of it, so she decides to have some real talk: "Do you blame me?" (15.67), she asks.
    • Nope. Kevin doesn't want Eva to have any of the credit.
    • Eva asks Kevin to remember his childhood, and how he wore diapers until he was six years old.
    • "Do you remember? What you drove me to do?" (15.94), she asks.
    • Kevin does remember, whatever it is, and calls it the "most honest thing" (15.97) she ever did.
    • What could it be?
  • Chapter 16: January 17, 2001

    • Eva admits to Franklin that she committed perjury when she said she'd never hit her son.
    • Eva leads up to what she did by explaining Kevin's behavior as World's Worst Kindergartner.
    • Eva believes that Kevin convinced all the other kids to break a girl's tea set.
    • Kevin also convinced a girl with eczema to scratch herself until she bled.
    • Franklin, of course, thinks it's all ridiculous.
    • Eva spends almost every minute of the day with Kevin, but Franklin doesn't believe her.
    • Over the summer, Eva tries to get Kevin to practice his alphabet and his arithmetic, but he already seems to know everything.
    • Eva changes six-year-old Kevin's diaper, and he poops the new one.
    • So Eva changes it again. And he poops. Again.
    • Fed up, Eva grabs Kevin and hurls him across the room into the changing table.
    • Dang.
  • Chapter 17: January 19, 2001

    • Eva flings Kevin across the room so hard that he breaks his arm.
    • Kevin doesn't cry. Creepy.
    • Eva takes Kevin to the hospital, saying he fell.
    • The doctor puts a cast on Kevin's arm, and they go home.
    • When Franklin comes home, he asks Kevin what happened. Not Eva. Kevin.
    • But Kevin lies. He says he fell off the changing table onto a dump truck.
    • Speaking of dump, Kevin stops using diapers that very day. Looks like Eva's attack worked.
    • But Eva wonders why Kevin didn't tell the truth, and she feels like she owes him for keeping her secret.
    • Later, Kevin is back to his trouble-making self.
    • Kevin loosens the fork of a neighbor's bike, and the neighbor boy gets hurt when he flies off it.
    • As usual, Franklin defends Kevin.
    • Eva has a surprising reaction to this confrontation: she wants another kid.
    • Eva wants a baby girl, since it's basically Franklin and Kevin vs. Eva all the time. She wants an even team.
    • Franklin thinks Eva will simply "freeze out" (17.121) another kid, and he refuses to comply.
    • Later, Eva tells Kevin that the neighbor had an accident.
    • "He thinks he's so cool with that bike" (17.129), Kevin says, even though Eva never mentioned a bike. Dum dum dummmm.
  • Chapter 18: February 1, 2001

    • Eva secretly stops using birth control and gets pregnant.
    • When Franklin finds out, he is furious.
    • Eva says she had to do it. She wants to find out something about her "soul" (18.35).
    • In other words, Eva wants to know if she's only capable of birthing pure evil.
    • Eva and Franklin tell Kevin he's going to have a sibling. His response: "You're going to be sorry" (18.50). Yikes.
    • Franklin wants nothing to do with naming the baby. It's a girl, and Eva names her Celia, after Franklin's aunt.
    • Celia is the opposite of Kevin right out of the womb. She's quiet, and she doesn't seem to be the spawn of Satan.
    • Franklin thinks she's too quiet. "Babies ought to cry. […] You're raising a doormat" (18.109).
    • But Eva is happy with her little doormat. At least she's welcoming, unlike Kevin.
  • Chapter 19: February 18, 2001

    • Eva speculates that the fallout from "Thursday" (19.1) would have been bearable if she'd been able to keep Celia. But she's with Franklin, wherever that is.
    • Eva goes on to talk about when Celia was born.
    • Celia: the opposite of Kevin.
    • Kevin treats everyone like crap. Celia is nice.
    • Kevin breaks things. Celia plays with broken toys.
    • Franklin likes Kevin (inexplicably); he calls Celia "clingy" (19.10).
    • Kevin torments Celia by leaving worms in her backpack or carrying her into a tree and leaving her there.
    • When Eva is around, Kevin acts "sour, secretive, and sarcastic" (19.23). But he turns on the charm for Franklin, staying on Daddy's good side.
    • At school, Kevin writes purposefully banal essays to bore his teachers.
    • One day, Kevin gets sick, and Eva has to take care of him.
    • Strangely, Kevin acts like a normal person. He lets her take care of him. He doesn't act like a jerk.
    • Kevin also drops the "Gee, Dad boisterousness" (19.38) of that act.
    • Eva thinks this is the real Kevin, too tired to put up the front he normally does.
    • Eva reads Kevin Robin Hood and His Merry Men and it seems to be the first—and only—book Kevin actually loves.
  • Chapter 20: February 24, 2001

    • Visiting Kevin in prison, Eva asks him why he chose to kill the particular people he did.
    • "I didn't like them," Kevin says (20.28).
    • Eva responds, "You don't like anybody" (20.29). Good point.
    • Kevin describes all the reasons he hated his victims. One liked acting. One talked politics. One was gay. One played basketball. If these are Kevin's criteria for a death sentence, we'd all be dead.
    • Kevin is bitter because there is a film being made of his crime and one of his surviving victims is a consultant on the picture.
    • Eva tries to anger Kevin, saying he killed Laura Woolford because she rejected him, but he doesn't buy into it. He laughs in her face.
    • Eva concludes that Kevin simply hates it when other people like things.
    • Eva remembers chaperoning a dance when Kevin was fourteen.
    • Being fourteen-year-olds, no one is on the dance floor.
    • Until one girl gets out there and bravely busts a move by herself.
    • She's movin' and groovin' until Kevin goes out on the dance floor…
    • Not to dance with her. He whispers something in her ear.
    • Her face falls and she leaves the dance floor, humiliated.
    • Eva doesn't know what her son said to the poor girl, but she imagines that the girl ain't never gonna dance again (guilty feet have got no rhythm).
  • Chapter 21: March 2, 2001

    • When Kevin is fourteen, in 1997, school shootings happen. Pearl, Mississippi. Paducah, Kentucky. Small towns devastated by tragedy.
    • Eva calls the kids weak losers unable to handle their problems.
    • Franklin wonders why no one just punches each other anymore.
    • "Choice of weapons […] is half the fight," Kevin says (21.19).
    • Kevin says the boy's "life is over already" (21.23), so he might as well go out with a bang.
    • Franklin blows it off as a joke.
    • Later, the cops bring Kevin and his greasy friend Lenny home. They were throwing bricks off the overpass.
    • Franklin is furious at Kevin for a change, and Eva lets Franklin take Kevin to his room to discipline him.
    • But when Franklin returns, he's calm. Kevin had an explanation: it was all Lenny's idea. Kevin just took the fall.
    • Eva, of course, doesn't believe this story, and she and Franklin fight over whether Kevin is a liar or not.
    • Later, though, Eva overhears Kevin talking to Lenny. Turns out he was telling the truth. But Kevin tells Lenny "this one's gonna cost you" (21.98).
    • Maybe Kevin only took the fall to earn a favor. That's what friends are for.
  • Chapter 22: March 3, 2001

    • Eva thinks it would be a good idea to take Kevin on a mother-son outing. Like taking a pet tiger out for a walk.
    • Eva and Kevin play mini golf, which Kevin takes surprisingly seriously. He aces every hole.
    • Eva and Kevin go Christmas shopping, but Kevin thinks it's hypocritical to celebrate Christmas, since they're not Christians. That ruins Christmas shopping, so they go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant.
    • At dinner, Kevin continues to deconstruct Eva's hypocrisy, calling her "pretentious" (22.93), "ignorant" (22.106), and "self-righteous" (22.106) before concluding he'd "rather have a big cow of a mother who at least didn't think she was better than everybody else in the fucking country" (22.106).
    • Um, check please?
    • For Christmas, which they later celebrate, anyway, Eva imports a short-eared elephant shrew for Celia, which she names Snuffles.
    • Franklin buys Kevin a crossbow. He's been excelling at archery.
    • Soon, Celia loses Snuffles, and Eva can't find the little creature, either.
    • Eva can't believe Celia would lose the shrew, since she's normally very conscientious. Eva worries Kevin did something to it—but they never find poor Snuffles.
  • Chapter 23: March 8, 2001

    • Soon after Snuffles goes missing, something else disappears: Celia's eyeball.
    • It's terrible. Somehow, while playing in the bathroom, Celia gets drain cleaner in her eye.
    • Franklin blames Eva for leaving out the drain cleaner that weekend. (Was Mr. Snuffles down the drain?!)
    • Kevin was supposed to be watching Celia, so Eva blames Kevin.
    • This fight really drives Eva and Franklin apart.
    • While Celia is in the hospital, Eva and Franklin tell Kevin to look after her and make sure she doesn't get teased at school.
    • Kevin doesn't seem to care.
    • With Celia in the hospital, Eva stays home a lot when not visiting Celia.
    • Kevin starts playing flog the dolphin, with the door open, in plain sight, where Eva can see him do it.
    • Later, Mary Woolford pays a visit.
    • Mary's daughter, Laura (who hasn't been killed by Kevin yet), is upset because Kevin called her fat.
    • Laura has an eating disorder, and thanks to Kevin's comment, she has relapsed into bulimia.
    • Eva tells Mary to tell Laura to "suck it up" (23.153) and slams the door in her face.
    • Celia returns home, and Eva won't leave her alone with Kevin for a second.
    • Eva has to clean out Celia's crusty eye socket with a Q-tip and baby shampoo.
    • One afternoon, she asks Celia how it happened. How did she get drain cleaner in her eye?
    • Celia says, "I got something in eye. Kevin helped me wash it out" (23.165).
  • Chapter 24: March 11, 2001

    • After more arguments about school shootings, Franklin and Eva wonder if there are any unstable kids at Kevin's school. You know, besides their own son.
    • Schools across the country are overreacting, and Kevin's own school does a locker search.
    • In one kid's locker, they find a hit list labeled "THEY ALL DESERVE TO DIE" (24.108). Subtle.
    • The hit list prompts Eva to think about how un-weird her son is. Cruel, maybe, but he seems to do all he can to not stand out as a weirdo at school.
    • One day, while Kevin is at school, Eva decides to snoop in his room.
    • The room is immaculate. No posters. Nothing strange. It's like a prison cell. (At least we know Kevin is probably comfortable in jail.)
    • Eva notices computer disks with weird labels: "Nostradamus." "I Love You." "D4-X."
    • Eva takes one disk and puts it into her computer, not realizing it's a virus.
    • Oops.
    • Eva takes the disk to her office to have someone there look at it, and it wipes out everyone's computer on the network.
    • This calls for a word stronger than oops.
    • But Eva doesn't get mad at Kevin. He didn't do it on purpose.
    • Eva does ask him about the disks.
    • Kevin says he collects viruses, and if she ever has someone she doesn't like, he can wipe out that person's computer for her.
    • Aww, that's sweet. Mother-son bonding.
  • Chapter 25: March 16, 2001

    • Eva is writing about 1998, at the height of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.
    • Kevin gets involved in a scandal of his own. He accuses his drama teacher, Vicki Pagorski, of sexually assaulting him.
    • The school is going to have a hearing, but in the meantime, Eva has a parent-teacher meeting with Kevin's English teacher, Dana Rocco.
    • Dana seems smart. She knows Kevin is sharper than he lets on—and that he gets joy out of humiliating people.
    • But Dana realizes that, despite being an ass, Kevin is learning, if only so he can be a superior know-it-all to everyone else.
    • At the hearing, Kevin has to testify about what Miss Pagorski did to him. He says she talked to him about horse genitalia and groped him. But he didn't want her to come onto him, because "she's ugly" (25.118).
    • Eva doesn't believe anything Kevin says about the teacher.
    • Kevin's grungy friend Lenny also testifies, and he uses very coarse language that embarrasses everyone and makes him and Kevin both look like liars.
    • You know the drill by this point: Franklin believes Kevin. Eva doesn't. They fight.
    • But this is a big one. Franklin says he wants to last out the school year, then get a divorce.
    • Eva is devastated. And she sees Kevin in the hallway, eavesdropping.
    • Eva and Franklin try to tell Kevin that it isn't about him, but he knows it is.
    • Eva thinks this is the moment when "he decided" (25.252) to do what he did.
    • Why? Eva thinks it's because if he didn't, Franklin would get custody of him, and despite how nice Kevin acts around him, for Kevin, that would be a fate worse than death.
  • Chapter 26: March 25, 2001

    • Eva is flicking channels in 2001 when she sees Kevin's face on the TV. It's the documentary that Jack Marlin contacted her about.
    • Marlin asks Kevin about his parents.
    • Kevin says his dad is a fraud—but that Marlin should lay off his mother.
    • Kevin even calls Eva's travels "pretty cool" (26.23). Is this the same Kevin?
    • Eva notices a picture hanging on his wall. It's a photograph of her, one she assumed Kevin had destroyed many years ago.
    • Kevin says he basically committed the crime for attention and entertainment. The public loves watching killers.
    • Kevin's offended that he won't get to be in the movie of his own story, because it's a story he made himself. He doesn't want to see others profiting off of it.
    • Eva turns off the TV, but she feels strangely proud of Kevin.
  • Chapter 27: April 5, 2001

    • At the beginning of her letter, Eva tries to assure Franklin that Kevin would have committed mass murder even if Franklin hadn't bought the crossbow. Kevin would have used something else.
    • Then Eva flashes back to April 8, 1999. A Thursday. The Thursday.
    • Everyone is getting ready for school. It's a normal morning. Except for the fact that Kevin is dressed like a normal person.
    • Normally Kevin wears weirdly tiny clothes. Today, his clothes fit perfectly.
    • Franklin starts telling Kevin he'll teach him to use a camera, and Kevin pretends to be interested.
    • Until he can't anymore.
    • Kevin yells at Franklin to shut up, and then he lays into him, saying he hates everything his dad tries to get him to care about.
    • Eva has to go, so she hugs Celia goodbye and tells her that she loves her.
    • Eva reminds Kevin he has independent archery study and he needs to take his gear to school.
    • Then, because it's Kevin's birthday in three days, she asks what he wants to do for it?
    • "I might be tied up" (27.34), he says. The busy schedule of a seventeen-year-old.
    • Later that day, Eva sees the story online: "Fatalities Feared in Gladstone High Shooting" (27.43). She races to the school.
    • In her letter, Eva tells Franklin that despite thinking Kevin was a horrible person almost every day of every year, that day, "not for an instant did [she] imagine" (27.46) that Kevin was a killer.
    • Eva goes into ghastly detail about what Kevin did, but we'll keep it short here.
    • Kevin sent letters of recognition to nine students and a teacher, telling them they would get an award in the gym. When they arrived in the gym, Kevin chained the door shut with impenetrable bike locks.
    • Then, using his crossbow, Kevin shot them all.
    • Two people survive, two are killed instantly, and the rest bleed to death slowly, while Kevin waits and watches.
    • That day, Eva arrives at the school and realizes Kevin is the one who did it.
    • Eva is in shock, unable to get angry with Kevin.
    • Eva tries desperately to get hold of Franklin, but he's not answering his phone.
    • Eva goes to the police station, where she files a statement.
    • When the cops ask if Eva wants to speak to Kevin, she says no, and she leaves without talking to him.
    • Eva goes home, and she learns why Franklin wasn't answering the phone.
    • Before Kevin left for school, he killed both Celia and Franklin.
    • Eva finds Celia pinned with arrows to a tree and Franklin lying in a pool of blood nearby.
    • In her letter to her dead husband, Eva wonders what Franklin thought when he realized that Kevin wasn't who he thought he was.
    • Eva sees Franklin's last facial expression on his dead body, and "It was so disappointed" (27.170).
  • Chapter 28: April 8, 2001

    • In her last letter, Eva reveals that because Kevin was three months shy of his sixteenth birthday, he got a more lenient sentence as a minor: only seven years.
    • Eva also says that, three months after the murder, she visited Kevin in prison.
    • Kevin tells Eva that he left her alive for "revenge" (28.18). But for what, we don't know.
    • Then Kevin pulls out a trophy he kept: Celia's eyeball.
    • Eva tells Kevin never to show her that again. And he never does.
    • It's the two-year anniversary of Kevin's crime.
    • Kevin will soon be eighteen, which means he'll be transferred to big-boy prison.
    • And Kevin is scared. It might be the only time Eva has seen Kevin show emotion like that.
    • Eva asks Kevin one last time why he killed everyone. Actually, she demands it. "Look me in the eye, and tell me why" (28.50).
    • Kevin says, "I used to think I knew. […] Now I'm not so sure" (28.52).
    • Then Kevin slides something across the table: it's a box with Celia's eye in it.
    • Kevin tells Eva not to open it. Just to bury it.
    • Eva hugs Kevin goodbye, and he says something to her, something that, to her, sounds like "I'm sorry."
    • So Eva says, "I'm sorry, too, Kevin. I'm sorry, too" (28.67).
    • At the end of her letter, Eva tells us that the civil trial ended up in her favor, but she still had to pay court costs.
    • Eva is happy with that. She has to sell the house she hates to cover it, and that feels cleansing.
    • Eva concludes the letter by saying that she felt nothing when Kevin was born. But "if only out of desperation or even laziness" (28.72), she now loves him.
    • One day, Kevin will be out of jail, and Eva has a second bedroom all ready in her apartment for him.
    • Eva signs off, "Forever your loving wife, Eva" (28.73).