Nineteen Minutes - Contextual Criticism

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ISP PART C: CONTEXTUAL CRITICISM When writing the book Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult takes into consideration her children’s personal experiences of being bullied at school as well as the history of school shootings. On March 6, 2007 Nineteen Minutes was published; on that very day Peter went to school and took the lives of nine students and one teacher. The story takes place in Sterling, a small town in New Hampshire; it was a town where “everyone knew everyone else” (21). As a mother of three, Picoult has seen her own children struggle to fit in and be what society wants them to be. “It was listening to their experiences, and my own frustrations, that led me to consider the topic.” Picoult also incorporates events that have taken place in the past into Nineteen Minutes, including the way the police told the parents of the deceased how their children had died. “My child went first, and didn’t suffer”, but this backfired because families realized that they had all been told the same thing. Furthermore, Picoult features events from the Columbine High School massacre that took place on April 20th, 1999. Two high-school seniors by the names of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot and murdered 12 students and one teacher. Klebold and Harris found it hard to fit into any of the other cliques at school and because of that they were frequently picked on. “When you don’t fit in, you become superhuman. You can feel everyone else’s eyes on you stuck like a Velcro.” (137) Similarly, Peter was picked on because he didn’t fit in anywhere; “they called him Peter Homo, instead of Peter Houghton.” (147) Moreover, the two Columbine High students had been thoroughly planning the massacre; they used household ingredients to make explosives such as pipe bombs. Lacy had also found “shoelaces, sugar, potassium nitrate fertilizer, and pipes” (85) in Peter’s closet. This suggests that
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