Study Guide

We Need to Talk About Kevin Society and Class

By Lionel Shriver

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Society and Class

"The name on everybody's lips is going to be… Kevin." If we learned anything from the musical Chicago, it's that the public is fascinated with true crime. Crimes simultaneously attract us and repulse us, and in We Need to Talk About Kevin, the situation is no different. One reason to read the book is a fascination with the psychology behind any of the numerous real-life school shooters. And in the book itself, Kevin considers himself an entertainer and even gets a documentary made about him. Take away the glamour, the singing ability, and the cute blonde bob from Roxie Hart of Chicago fame, and you basically have Kevin. That's a sobering thought.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. How does society dictate Eva's behavior when pregnant? Or when she's a new mother? When Eva feels differently from how society expects her to feel, how does she react?
  2. Is Kevin rebelling against society? If so, why and how does he do it?
  3. How does the public view Eva and Kevin after the murder?
  4. In the real world, if someone like Kevin committed this crime, would he or she be remembered for it forever? Or would society eventually forget and fixate on another crime?

Chew on This

Society puts a lot of pressure on mothers, making Eva feel a lot more pressure than Franklin does. If the roles were reversed, and Eva were killed and Franklin had lived, we doubt people would point fingers at him the way they do at Eva.

Eva is very critical of society as a whole, and Kevin seems to be the physical embodiment of her criticism. The act he commits forces her to examine herself, and reevaluate her views on the society she lives in.

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