Study Guide

We Need to Talk About Kevin Family

By Lionel Shriver

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Many people believe in a traditional family unit—a mother, a father, 2.5 children, maybe a pet and a picket fence. But in We Need to Talk About Kevin, Kevin Khatchadourian tries to prove that having a traditional family that looks "wholesome" on the outside can still be terrible on the inside. Kevin tries to divide his parents, and he reduces the number of children from 2 to approximately 1.93 when he causes his little sister to lose an eyeball. And that pet? Kevin probably shoved it down the drain. The Khatchadourian clan isn't the Brady Bunch. It isn't even the Bundy clan from Married… with Children. They're more like the Ted Bundy Bunch.

Questions About Family

  1. Why do Eva and Franklin decide to have a child to complete their family? Do they have different reasons for wanting a child?
  2. Why does Eva decide to have a second child against Franklin's wishes? What are the consequences of her actions?
  3. Do you think the Khatchadourians look like a "normal" family to an outsider? What makes a family seem "normal"?
  4. What other family units are depicted in the book—like Eva's family, or Franklin's parents? How are these family units different from Franklin and Eva's family? How are they similar?

Chew on This

Because Franklin and Eva decide to have children for different reasons, Kevin pulls them in two different directions. They aren't a solid family unit.

Kevin tries to destroy everything, and his family is just one more thing on his list that needs to be broken.

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