Good and bad mothering : Lionel Shriver's 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'

Muller, Vivienne (2008) Good and bad mothering : Lionel Shriver's 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'. In Porter, Marie & Kelso, Julie (Eds.) Theorising and Representing Maternal Realities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, UK, pp. 38-53.

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On Thursday the 8th of April 1999, at the age of sixteen, Kevin Katchourian, a boy from a white upper middle-class American home, son of two high earning professionals, corrals seven hand-picked classmates, a teacher and a cafeteria worker in his school gym and from an upper alcove, dispassionately, methodically, shoots and kills each one of them with his cross-bow. Prior to this massacre, as we later learn, he has similarly dispatched his sister and father. Only his mother Eva is spared but it seems from her perspective that Kevin has carefully orchestrated this killing spree just for her as some kind of calculated act. Revenge for bad mothering? Desire for recognition? This is something we never quite find out, nor does Eva, the self-reflexive narrator of Lionel Shriver’s novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, whose letters to her dead husband Franklin two years after the killings, take the reader on a journey into one woman’s experience of motherhood in 1980’s America, and to the possibility, raised retrospectively by Eva herself, that her frustrated and fraught relationship with her son might have contributed significantly to the way Kevin turns out.

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ID Code: 19493
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: maternal, good and bad mothering, literary representation, We need to talk about Kevin, Lional Shriver
ISBN: 1847184561
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Culture Gender Sexuality (200205)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LITERARY STUDIES (200500)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Creative Writing & Literary Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Marie Porter and Julie Kelso and contributors
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s manuscript version of the work. It is posted here with permission of the copyright owner for your personal use only. No further distribution is permitted. For more information about this book please refer to the publisher's website (see Official URL) or contact the author
Deposited On: 07 Apr 2009 23:06
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2015 23:22

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