Redefining a Controversial Term
This chapter attempts to redefine the term “closure” as applied in the context of the Oklahoma City bombing. By disturbing, inflaming, and frustrating family members and survivors, the Oklahoma City bombers' toxic presences commenced and compelled a quest for “closure.” The application of the term “closure” in the Oklahoma City context raised a host of other issues, such as the controversial assertion that Timothy McVeigh's execution would provide closure by soothing victims' troubled souls. This chapter examines how victims' family members and survivors define closure and attempt to achieve it, with particular emphasis on the link between the pursuit of closure and “memory work.” It also considers the extent to which closure is identified with capital punishment, the idea that victims' families require a death sentence or execution to heal. Finally, it discusses the interrelationships among closure, cultural trauma, and the journey from victim to survivor, along with the media and the criminal justice system as institutional sites of closure.
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