DaariaTargaryen

[OB] In defense of Kaladin and Shallan

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I have been wanting to share some thoughts (and some theories) on here for some time as i have on Reddit. i have a few but have decided to start with the one that gained the largest response on Reddit here first to see how it goes. I know its a little controversial, which is why I am starting with this one. I have other more tinfoil ideas as well and hope this goes okay. I have never really shared on here before and i am a little nervous. I hope everyone enjoys my thoughts. Sorry its so long!

 

The first topic I have decided to do was the idea of Kaladin and Shallan and why I feel they are headed toward a romantic relationship. A controversial topic, I know, and not one I exactly relished in when I started WoR. But by the end of the book and where we are left as far as the characters go, it seemed to make more sense to me.

 

1. parallel stories

Sanderson goes to great pains to show parallelism is Kaladin and Shallan’s story arcs while including some obvious differences. I know the same can be said for Kaladin and Dalinar’s story arcs, and that is something I can go into another time, but this is not the place. The mentor and apprentice relationship can be seen through various stories in Stormlight. But the parallelism and relationship that Kaladin and Shallan develop is unique in Stormlight from what we have seen thus far. A nice subtle example of Kaladin and Shallan’s parallel stories is the slave caravan. The caravan that helps Shallan is the same one that had enslaved Kaladin. We are meant to pick up on this. Their travels to the shattered plains are similar yet different. Sanderson points out the marks in the wagon that Shallan notices and contemplates. These are the same marks that were present when Kaladin was in the wagon. This is a nod to their very similar journeys and how their similar yet unshared experiences later help them understand each other and in turn develop further. Some of the other more obvious examples are their hard lives, isolated small town upbringing, love for their siblings, and the intense tragedy they have both witnessed or been part of. An interesting note that I haven’t seen mentioned much is the fact that one of Kaladin’s slave brands, Shash (means dangerous), is also the number that is meant to represent Shalash, the Herald of Beauty and patron to the Lightweavers.

 

2. pride and prejudice trope

I call this the pride and prejudice trope because it is the best, longest lasting, and most well-known of the trope. Two people from different classes dislike each other and butt heads. It is also an opposites attract trope. There are so many examples of this between Kaladin and Shallan I doubt I will be able to remember them all. For starters, the passion that they seem to show in their squabbles are some of the best examples of the characters actually displaying outward extreme emotions other than in flashbacks, even if that emotion is hate. But it is a well-known trope in story-telling that the strong emotion of hate can easily transfer to the strong emotion of love. So really, the stronger the feeling the more likely it is to swing in the polar opposite direction. The class issue that is present and addressed in part 4 of WoR is also the premise of why Darcy and Elizabeth take a while to understand one another in the novel Pride and Prejudice. It is to be noted that this also seems to parallel Kaladin and Shallan as far as who seems to accept the attraction first. The person who is more open about the difference in their classes is also the one who is the first to admit to the attraction to the other person (Darcy and Kaladin). Elizabeth and Shallan both express less concern about class but are clearly very affected by it subconsciously. This trope also is a great example of respect for the other person based on empathy and mutual understanding as well as respect for the other person’s intellect. This is something that is clearly lacking in Shallan’s relationship with Adolin. A shared level of intellect is not absolutely necessary for a solid relationship in every case, but in my experience in real life as well as storytelling, two people in a relationship where a large difference in intellect occurs can be a problem. The opposites attract part is something that I have seen discussed before in depth. Some of the things that have been previously discussed are as follows: Kaladin is a morning person, Shallan is not. Shallan likes wine, Kaladin avoids alcohol. Their spren hate each other (the issue I see as being the most problematic, even more so than the engagement to Adolin). Shallan loves the weeping, Kaladin hates it (and we do know that Kaladin suffers from seasonal affective disorder). These are all little things mentioned throughout the books.

 

3. shared stories = bond

The part of the story I found most interesting when it has come to our two main POV characters thus far is how and when they choose to talk to others about their past. Both are quite close-lipped on the subject, but occasionally let information out to others. Shallan tells Jasnah and Adolin a little bit (note that she opens up to Jasnah more than Adolin, although I see nothing strange in this. Its just an observation). And Kaladin talks to his fellow bridgemen about his past sometimes. But neither of them tells another soul anywhere near as much as they tell each other. Adolin has only seen once the implications of what Shallan has gone through once when she snapped at him for wanting to protect her (that scene was awesome by the way). The bond that is formed from sharing your deepest darkest secrets with another is usually a very intense one in fiction. That person usually goes on to be the other person’s greatest ally or their greatest foe. The intensity of their situation and the dramatic way of revealing their true selves to each other only ­adds to this.

 

4. same position = continued understanding of each other

The story is being set up as two young attractive people who are attracted to each other being placed in similar situations where no one on Roshar except a very few can relate. And we are to expect nothing happens? The fact that they start off the next book apart has me curious when this is going to move forward, but move forward it will. As we are starting to see it, Kaladin and Shallan will not likely have any other KR’s that they feel like they can relate to any time soon. Renarin is a mess and Shallan thinks he is crazy. Not to mention he belongs to a notoriously secretive Order of the KR. Kaladin has his bridgemen and Adolin but none of them will fully understand. Shallan also has Adolin, but he is a mess and will not likely want to deal with Shallan’s issues with his own mess to take care of. That is if she confides in him at all. One would imagine she may have Jasnah in the near future but I believe Sanderson has said Jasnah is kind of off on her own for a while. Bonds form between people sharing high stress situations. Kaladin and Shallan have already done this and will likely be forced to do it again. Shallan ended WoR super pissed at Pattern and may want to get rid of him, but who has lost their spren before and may understand what the cost of this may be? And Kaladin is going to have a tough time coming to terms with his new station, but who has knocked him straight on that front a few times before?

It may be nothing, but I noticed on the diagram of all the Orders, Windrunners and Lightweavers are placed a polar opposites sides of the chart (Windrunners upper left and Lightweavers lower right) with a direct line attaching the two. Is this a nod to their opposite personalities yet connected paths?

 

5. the adolin factor

The way Adolin and Kaladin both treat Shallan is also very different. Adolin clearly respects Shallan as he has been brought up to respect women but feels the need to protect her. He doesn’t do this because he views her as his property or anything else like that. He does it because he is a good person who wants to help those in need, especially women. Kaladin mistrusts and does not respect her at first. She has to earn his trust and respect. And because of this he lets her be herself and more self-sufficient. She shows resentment of this behavior at first, being angry that he walks to fast and that he doesn’t immediately offer to carry her pack. But she must subconsciously appreciate it as she starts to actually care that he sees her in a negative light. He is some-what helpful to her in the chasms, but for the most part he expects her to keep up with him and pull her own weight in their travels. This in turn allows her to show more of herself to him as there isn’t a level of expectation of who she should be. Later she appears to go to great pains to prove to him she is not who he thinks she is.

Shallan’s attraction to Adolin is significantly more physical than spiritual or intellectual. Most of the time when she is describing him positively its by his physical attributes. She acknowledges he is not intelligent and accepts this. The one time she does describe his deeper qualities such as his kindness and his loyalty she immediately proceeds to compare them to Kaladin. Her deepest description of Kaladin involves her saying he is brilliant, passionate, has smoldering resolve, and tempting arrogance. These words are meant to convey a much deeper feeling than kind, noble, and genuine that she uses to describe Adolin. We as readers are meant to see the large differences in the description of these two men.

I love Adolin. He is a great character and is promising to be an even better one in the next book. I am the most excited to see where his story is going out of all of the characters. But the guy is not ready to settle down and be married. Even Navani points out in TWoK that Adolin should court various girls and gives him a “good for you.” He has enough interest to want to keep Shallan, but continues to look at other women. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but maybe just don’t do it in front of Shallan, dude. She sees it at the beginning, and that’s fair. They didn’t know each other and he didn’t realize at that point she was different. But then he keeps doing it! She is fully aware of this and lets it go. And honestly, if her feelings were completely invested she would have expressed more irritation to this at least in her own thoughts. I totally understand not acting on jealousy, but we get to hear her thoughts and she barely seems to care that he does it other than as a hurdle to get over to ensure the engagement goes through.

And this brings me to my next point, Shallan herself is the biggest hurtle to this relationship in three ways. Don’t get me wrong, all of the things I am about to mention could be taken care of through story-telling. She could easily get over every one of these and make this relationship work. But where I see this going, her getting over the next three hurdles can only result in the engagement and potential marriage becoming null and void. 1. This whole basis of this relationship is that Shallan is using Adolin. She’s not using him for any selfish or diabolic reasons, and I can respect that. But the stakes are high for her, much higher than they are for him. She is desperate for it to work in order to save her family. Desperation makes us ignore many things that we would otherwise find important, like feelings of love and passion. 2. She is not herself with him, at least not completely. We see some awesome bits and pieces on how Shallan shows she is not like other girls, but much of it seems forced and its not complete. The scene about talking about BM’s while in shardplate is great to show this, but to me it just highlights how much she isn’t showing him of herself. She never shows him the extent of her drawing from memory abilities. He is not the first person she tells or shows her KR powers to-both Dalinar and Kaladin are aware of her abilities before he is as well as her artistic prowess. She blows up at him after leaving the chasms but fails to explain her actions as she should to make him better understand why she responded in that way. He knows nothing of her past experiences with her parents. This is huge and way more important than people seem to realize. Brushing aside the fact that she told Kaladin all about it first, I would imagine once she got it off her chest to someone (even in an intense and highly emotional situation), she would have felt more comfortable telling Adolin if it was that important for him to know and understand her. Especially as she was given a very good opportunity for this very early on after leaving the chasm. Which leads me to my next point that maybe Shallan doesn’t actually fully know her real self. 3. This is by far the most important-the lies. Mraize tells Shallan when he last confronts her that Veil is the real her and that the noble woman Shallan is her pretend self. This is important because the noble women is the only version of Shallan that Adolin sees. So in case the reader hasn’t picked up on it before this point, its spelled out for you that Shallan is never herself with Adolin. The fiery con-artist who calls it like it is, that’s the real Shallan. In reality she is more likely a mix of the two and could never truly live without the lies, at least not while she is a KR. Her lies are the whole point of her becoming a KR and what draws Pattern to her. But the point is made. 

 

6. History repeats itself

There are clear comparisons, especially as WoR goes on, of the Kaladin/Shallan/Adolin love triangle and the Dalinar/Navani/Gavilar love triangle. The one worth noting the most is that both Navani and Shallan admit to being afraid of the intensity that Dalinar and Kaladin display, respectively. In TWoK Navani says, “I chose him because you frightened me. That intensity of yours… it scared your brother too, you know.” The phrasing is ironically similar. In the chasms Shallan is looking at Kaladin, thinking “There was a sort of rugged handsomeness to the fellow. Like the beauty of a natural rock formation, as opposed to a fine sculpture like Adolin. But Kaladin’s intensity, that frightened her.” When Shallan mentions it in WoR you are meant as a reader to recall what Navani had said about Dalinar in TWoK. The wording is almost exactly the same. Similar lines (and scenes) are thrown into books, movies, tv to draw comparisons. I would also like to point out that Shallan considers herself a naturalist, wanting to focus her scholarship on documenting flora and fauna. She compares Kaladin to something she is passionate about and Adolin to something that is secondary to her in art.

7. The complications

The way I see it, there are only two major hurtles to this potentially romantic relationship. That is if you discount the imminent end of the world they appear to be going through and their “spren conflict.” The first hurtle is obviously Adolin. If history does truly repeat itself then Shallan will choose Adolin and that will be that. However, we are left at the end WoR with the question of where Adolin is headed in the story. He is surrounded by Knights Radiant but is not one himself. He just killed a man in cold blood and will likely have some serious guilt over that. We are left with Adolin at a fork in the road, unclear which path he will take. The second hurdle is the huge issue that Kaladin knows he is the one to kill Shallan’s brother. Based on her response to Amaram we know she is going to be devastated by the news that Kaladin is the one who actually killed Heleran. He will tell her eventually because he is honorable and could never live with himself without telling her the truth. This is an excellent plot device for them and the biggest hindrance to a potential relationship for them. I do not see it as being a long lasting issue. Shallan wound eventually have to acknowledge that people do terrible things sometimes, no one more than herself. She cannot fault Kaladin for killing her brother when her brother killed all his men. Also, there is a lot of foreshadowing in WoR that Heleran was up to a lot of stuff including potential involvement in the ghostbloods. So Shallan may not be in a place to be missing her brother overly much when she does find out about his death.

One last thought on this, I had previously mentioned that the fact that Kaladin and Shallan’s spren hate each other would be a potential issue for a relationship. However, Syl doesn't seem to mind the idea based on the sample chapters, so i doubt Pattern would either.

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It’s well thought out and detailed - but doesn’t necessarily imply a future romantic relationship. Brandon is all about subverting tropes, and flipping expectations. I definitely see the parallels - and the possibility. But I think Sanderson is taking this somewhere else. 

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I'm pretty sure there's a wob saying that stormlight specifically was an attempt to subvert as many tropes as possible. In answer to the point that the stakes are higher for her than him, I'd say that was the case at the beginning of their relationship but now that her family's status is dependant on the ghost bloods instead of court politics, her only motivation for loving adolin is that she likes him as a person. I feel that his easygoing and optimistic worldview is something that she really needs as a pillar of support especially now that she's losing herself in her illusions; she needs an anchor and adolin provides a better anchor than kaladin. As for the fact that she made all those comments about kaladins intensity, that could easily be attributed to her artistic mind looking for prominent traits and she didn't do this for adolin as she simply didn't have the same experience with him of just being together without any external things with ghostbloods and all demanding her attention. In the chasms there was very little to think about and so she focused more on kaladin than she was able to on adolin. Shallan needs adolins positivity right now and though I will admit Kaladin is more positive than he was in Wok, adolin is still a much better way of leaving behind all the stresses of Shallans life. 

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42 minutes ago, MadhavDeval said:

I'm pretty sure there's a wob saying that stormlight specifically was an attempt to subvert as many tropes as possible. In answer to the point that the stakes are higher for her than him, I'd say that was the case at the beginning of their relationship but now that her family's status is dependant on the ghost bloods instead of court politics, her only motivation for loving adolin is that she likes him as a person. As for the fact that she made all those comments about kaladins intensity, that could easily be attributed to her artistic mind looking for prominent traits and she didn't do this for adolin as she simply didn't have the same experience with him of just being together without any external things with ghostbloods and all demanding her attention. In the chasms there was very little to think about and so she focused more on kaladin than she was able to on adolin. Shallan needs adolins positivity right now and though I will admit Kaladin is more positive than he was in Wok, adolin is still a much better way of leaving behind all the stresses of Shallans life. 

Ah that block of text was hard to read. Use some white space and punctuation, man! :D

43 minutes ago, MadhavDeval said:

In answer to the point that the stakes are higher for her than him, I'd say that was the case at the beginning of their relationship but now that her family's status is dependant on the ghost bloods instead of court politics, her only motivation for loving adolin is that she likes him as a person.

This is not necessarily true. There are a number of reasons for why she would want to continue the betrothal--stability, chance for normalcy, etc. Certainly she likes him as a person; I like him as a person. I don't know that we would be friends IRL, though... Anyway, liking someone is not the same as loving someone. She doesn't love Adolin. Not yet. She's infatuated with him, she thinks him physically attractive, but as of right now there is something lacking in their relationship to my view. They are cute together, and I hope they can make it work--I'll really be happy either way, so long as she's happy.

However, right now I don't see them lasting, and it has nothing to do with my views as a Shalladin shipper.

48 minutes ago, MadhavDeval said:

As for the fact that she made all those comments about kaladins intensity, that could easily be attributed to her artistic mind looking for prominent traits and she didn't do this for adolin as she simply didn't have the same experience with him of just being together without any external things with ghostbloods and all demanding her attention.

I would argue against the second part of this. She has innumerably more experiences with Adolin by this point, and the fact that you argue that Shallan not describing Adolin as vividly because a lack of intense experience implies the opposite of what you think it does.

50 minutes ago, MadhavDeval said:

In the chasms there was very little to think about and so she focused more on kaladin than she was able to on adolin.

And yet...she still mentioned wanting to kiss Adolin in Kaladin's presence, so that's not it. It was certainly an ordeal, but something happened in the chasm between Shallan and Kaladin. They shared very deeply buried and personal information with each other--information neither has shared with anyone else, before or since.

52 minutes ago, MadhavDeval said:

Shallan needs adolins positivity right now and though I will admit Kaladin is more positive than he was in Wok, adolin is still a much better way of leaving behind all the stresses of Shallans life.

Um....I will agree to disagree with you on this point. I agree that Shallan needs positivity right now, but what she needs more is someone who she will let help her confront her demons, and then will show her they still love her anyway. And I'm not saying that has to be Kaladin, or Adolin. But she needs to confront her demons and accept them more than anything else.

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Great points made by all of the above. Thank you for engaging. 

The only thing I have to comment on, and this is completely personal opinion and I have not much to back it up right now, but I don't see many examples of subverting in any of Brandon's books. There are some, I will agree. But when compared to someone like GRRM, Brandon is a lot more predictable. At least to me.

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