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Killing McVeighThe Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure$
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Jody Lyneé Madeira

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814796108

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814796108.001.0001

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(p.38) 3 Opening Up “Closure”

(p.38) 3 Opening Up “Closure”

Redefining a Controversial Term

(p.38) 3 Opening Up “Closure”
Killing McVeigh

Jody Lyneé Madeira

NYU Press

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.

Keywords:   closure, Oklahoma City bombing, survivors, Timothy McVeigh, victims, memory work, capital punishment, cultural trauma, media, criminal justice system

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