Study Guide

We Need to Talk About Kevin Violence

By Lionel Shriver

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If we were to do an acrostic for Kevin, it would look like this:


We cheated a bit on K, but it's true. Kevin seems to only care about himself. Without the capacity for empathy, Kevin can be kruel—er, cruel to other people and violent, all without feeling any guilt or remorse. Maybe one reason he commits the violent school massacre is to test his own limits and see just how far his cruelty can go—since in his mind, the further he can go, the better he is than other people.

Questions About Violence

  1. What are some early signs of Kevin's violent tendencies? Could his parents have done anything to curb them?
  2. When does Eva use violence against Kevin? What are the results of her actions?
  3. Before the crime, would you consider Kevin a violent teenager?

Chew on This

Franklin says that "violence is no way to get your point across." Franklin is wrong. Kevin definitely gets a point across by committing his violent act—we're just not sure exactly what his point is.

Kevin is internally desensitized to violence. He doesn't watch violent movies or play violent video games or live in a violent household, but violence simply doesn't seem to affect him.

We Need to Talk About Kevin Violence Study Group

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