We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (3 star ratings)Shortly before his sixteenth birthday, Kevin Khatchadourian kills seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher. He is visited in prison by his mother, Eva, who narrates in a series of letters to her estranged husband, Franklin, the story of Kevins upbringing. For this powerful, shocking novel, Lionel Shriver was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction.
~from the back cover
Brian Trenchard-Smith on WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
The Impossible Question of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin': Nature or Nurture?
A mother grapples with grief and shame after a son's act of violence in a spellbinding new film. You always have been your mother's joy. But what happens when everything ugly about the world is embodied in the son, when he's the source of the "sin and woe" that Phillips sings about over his ethereal zither? If the bond between mother and son becomes tenuous or broken, is that the result of his evil deeds, or the cause of them? As a baby, he rarely ceases crying, to the point where a frazzled Eva seeks refuge from the noise by walking him by construction sites, where the sound of the jackhammer five feet away provides momentary relief.
He was very unlikely psychopathic, but instead sociopathic. His mother Psychopaths: Is the movie 'We Need to talk about Kevin' an accurate.
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In flashbacks, we learn something about his short, unhappy life. His mother, Eva Khatchadourian Tilda Swinton , we soon discover, was somewhat ambivalent about having a child in the first place. She seems anxious and out of place in the new home. Some of this discontent apparently rubs off on and damages her offspring. Kevin is nothing but trouble from the moment of his birth.
Almost from birth, Kevin shows his mother no love, just pure hate; he doesn't just push her away, but plays with her mind, finding ever new ways to hurt her. The film asks us to face up to two big questions: where does "pure evil" come from, and how should we as parents or as a society respond to it? For me, the term "evil" is not helpful. Instead I suggest we need to talk about the erosion of empathy. Unlike evil, empathy is scientifically tractable. You can measure it, locate it in the brain, and dissect it into its component parts. Empathy comes by degrees, and most of us are in the average range on a scale from zero through to six.