galendo

Does Shallan's fourth Ideal have anything to do with her fractured mental state?

40 posts in this topic

So I was bashing Shallan in another thread and got into the start of potentially an interesting debate.  I was griping once again about how Truths were way more boring than Oaths and made in the process the following claim:

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Her previous Truths didn't affect her character in any way, shape, or form, so I certainly don't expect her last Truth to do any better.

To which @Steel Inquisitive replied:

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Umm..... Her last truth literally broke her mind. She was fairly put together in WoK and WoR but at the end of WoR when she spoke her latest truth it broke her mind and shattered her soul into three pieces.

Are these restraints? Not really. Do they affect her character? Definitely!

This aligning not at all with what I remembered from Oathbringer, I made the following reply:

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That's...not the way I remember it.  She started as Veil to infiltrate the Ghostbloods in WoR, and started as Radiant to train with Adolin in OB.  I'm not sure what her fourth Ideal has to do with any of that.

Yes, she had some issues about fighting with Pattern because of the way her mother died.  But remember we see evidence of this reticence as early as...well, probably as early as WoK, when she starts to summon Pattern and then doesn't.  We see this again, in WoR, when she gives Kaladin her Blade rather than face the chasmfiend herself.  This is well before her "I killed my mother" Truth.

Maybe there's some evidence that her fourth Ideal somehow caused the personality disassociation -- I certainly don't remember anything to suggest that, but I'm admittedly somewhat overdue for an OB reread -- but if neither her second nor her third Ideals caused her amnesia, I don't see why her fourth Ideal would magically cause her personality disorder any more than Kaladin's second Ideal causes his depression.  Sure, he gets depressed when he fails to protect people, and his second Ideal is all about protecting people, but it's silly to think that one causes the other.  In the same way, although Shallan might have some serious hang-ups about killing her mother, and although her fourth Ideal was about killing her mother, it seems somewhat silly to suppose that one causes the other.

Well, at this point Steel Inquisitive made the point that we were getting rather off the topic of the thread, which was about disappointments in SA in general and not Shallan in particular, but the reply above got me wondering if I were missing something.  Especially considering that as of this writing, five people have upvoted Steel Inquisitive's response, which suggests to me a significant number of people must agree with the argument.  Which makes no sense to me. As mentioned above, claiming that Shallan's fourth Ideal caused her mental problems seems about as strange to me as claiming that Kaladin's second Ideal caused his depression, but maybe I missed or am forgetting something.

Any thoughts?

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IIRC, Pattern basically forced her to relive the memory, and she wasn't really ready to face it yet. So she's fleeing from that memory, which was too painful for "Shallan" into the other personas, that didn't hurt.

Edited by RShara
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2 minutes ago, RShara said:

IIRC, Pattern basically forced her to relive the memory, and she wasn't really ready to face it yet. So she's fleeing from that memory, which was too painful for "Shallan" into the other personas, that didn't hurt.

I agree with all this. When she said the Truth it forced her to face the problem rather than ignore it...... But being Shallan she found a loophole. She just decided she wasn't Shallan anymore.

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@galendo

Take a look at the middle of Ch. 11 in OB. That's when she creates Brightness Radiant. That should illustrate the point that Shallan intentionally split herself so she would not have to deal with a new truth, sworn but not having come to terms with.  And while it is true that she used the Veil persona before speaking her latest truth, the key is that before it was a tool. After the swearing it became a crutch, an escape.

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Shallan's problem with her truths is that she isn't ready to actually face them. She's prone to dissociation and related when someone reminds her of the trauma she experienced. She needed to admit the truth, but the truths that she was using for her Ideals were things that she had suppressed. Bringing those up out of her traumatized repression meant that she had to deal with it when she wasn't dealing with it before. Though it seems that she's falling apart, it's actually an improvement on her full-on repressing it. The initial impact of her remembering is the split personas from the intense self-hatred, but she would always have to work through this to progress.

So tl;dr, she's remembering the truth but hasn't internalized it yet; hence, she's still catching up on where her powers should actually be, but she is progressing.

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I believe she mentions the pain of "an ideal spoken but not overcome" in reference to this ideal.

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That's actually the quote I was looking for. Couldn't find it.

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Prior to speaking the Truth, Shallan was hiding from the fact he killed her mother. Every time she comes near it she either stops in place and stares sightlessly (in flashbacks) or stuffs it to the back of her mind or just forgets it. But after she spoke the Ideal:

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It meant she had to summon her Blade each time. The Blade she’d used to kill her mother. A truth she’d spoken as an Ideal of her order of Radiants.

A truth that she could no longer, therefore, stuff into the back of her mind and forget.

OB, Chapter 8

So she found a loophole with multiple personas. Before she spoke the Ideal her coping mechanism was "I didn't do it". After she spoke it it turned into "it wasn't me".

Edited by Sedside
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I think that each radiant's oaths have something to do with the way that certain radiants avoid the tough parts of their lives.  Lightweavers as liars risk loosing their ability to be honest with themselves.  Windrunners can loose perspective and respect for their power and how it should be used.  Edgedancers risk forgetting about individuals who do not share their advantages.  Bondsmiths have a hard time recognizing and dealing with their errors.  Shallahn's oaths may not seem restrictive but as an individual whose main coping mechanism is escapism admitting my own limitations and fears is incredibly difficult. 

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The personal nature of truths, while less restrictive, makes them even more difficult to advance in my opinion. 

Lying to ourselves is what humans do best. We convince ourselves we're better than we are. We hold other people to higher standards than we hold ourselves to. We, by our very nature's, are hypocrites who condemn people as jerks for behaviors we all do daily. 

Advancement in the Order of Lightweavers requires facing deep seeded truths that you'd rather not face. It requires going against the very way our brains are built and accepting the things about ourselves that we gloss over and justify, and seeing them for what they are. 

Shallan was not ready to do this. People blame Adolin for the creation of Radiant... But eventually Shallan would have to face her blade and Radiant would come. Her need to shunt the truth aside and hide behind a mask is the source of her problems, but her latest truth exacerbated that immensely. 

Look at Veil in WoR, and then look at Veil in OB. In WoR Veil was a mask in truth. A role that Shallan donned and removed, but the lines were clear that Veil wasn't real. In OB, after speaking that truth, Shallan started treating Veil as a separate person in her own rite... Not because she'd fleshed out the character more, or because she fractured any further... But because she didn't want to be herself. 

Shallan's first truth was "I am terrified." that doesn't apply to just that situation with the Cryptics in Kharbranth. That is the core of her character. She is driven by fear. Her instinct is always to run, to hide. To do whatever is necessary to make it so that she doesn't have to deal with the problem. And when that fails it all comes crashing down on her head. 

The Truths are not the cause of her issues. But her truths combined with them make for a disturbing situation. 

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I'm certainly not the most empathic or articulate to express who Shallan is but I will try.

A lot of the general Shallan dislike and disappointment stems from the fact that she doesn't always 'make sense'. A lot of readers, in order to start enjoying her, keep expecting that she'll start to make sense at some point, only to get further disappointed later on. It's a 'catch 22' and in the end, it starts to feel that she 'drags the story'.

I don't think her mental state is something a reader would necessarily be able to associate with. And to understand Shallan, we should try to avoid our intrinsic personal projection as readers onto the character (which could work in understanding other characters) but instead understand by empathizing each of her moments separately.

As others have said above, the 'truth' that she killed her mother with Pattern is an immensely traumatic one. We need our parents to ground us to who we are and to teach us how to live, so losing a parent is traumatic for any child (remember that she's only 17). Much more so when caused by death, devastating if their death was of a violent nature, crippling when the culprit is the child itself. Now multiply that (if that can be done with trauma) even further because she doesn't have another parent to get support from because she killed him as well! That's a tenfold of 'an understandable reason for existential crisis'.

So instead of allowing any of those truths to be 'the' reality, she makes that 'a' reality of many. She copies herself to multiple selves, in order to accept each truth and reality to a separate self. From her first chapter in WoK we get the line 'She hated being duplicitous', so that's the foreshadowing that she has been doing exactly that all along. She creates Veil to be the 'undercover one' and Radiant to use Pattern as a blade, but the biggest truth of this is that all of them are real and all of them are her.

Actually, someone could enjoy her character on a re-read even more, by noticing that she has been disassociating as far back as her flashbacks in WoR. There is a detail, a sense of 'coldness' that seems to overtake her on multiple occasions, which I think are the moments she separated herself from reality. She, of course, didn't name those selves every time, so it wasn't an obvious thing for a reader to notice.

I'd also like to add another reason for a crisis. The fact that she had a Shardblade as a child, which she has no recollection of acquiring, and the questions that would make her raise and face, but that's a separate thread in itself. And also the fact that truths aren't necessarily a one-to-one match to Ideals, but that's another separate thread as well.

Lastly, let me say that I really like the fact that you've realized that you might be missing something and you've made a thread about it.
That's a big step that any one of us would struggle to do (I do) and it's commendable that you did it.

Edited by insert_anagram_here
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In other words a fully realized lightweaver of the 5th ideal would have to be aware of their failings as a sibling, parent, child, friend, radiant, spouse, etc and be OK WITH IT!!!  Or at least manage to deal with it without lying to themselves or avoiding thinking about it.  Does anyone on this form think that they are realy capable of this?

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Oh good gosh. Y'all just made me respect OB Shallan. Before my biggest complaint was that she was fracturing rather than progressing and that didn't make sense, and now y'all made it make sense. Welp. I can't bash Shallan anymore now. Thanks y'all. Now I need to find another character to be annoyed at. 

This post had a lot of y'alls. That wasn't intentional.

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4 minutes ago, HSuperLee said:

Oh good gosh. Y'all just made me respect OB Shallan. Before my biggest complaint was that she was fracturing rather than progressing and that didn't make sense, and now y'all made it make sense. Welp. I can't bash Shallan anymore now. Thanks y'all. Now I need to find another character to be annoyed at. 

This post had a lot of y'alls. That wasn't intentional.

Try Jasnah (I actually love her) but her recourse to assassins, poor leadership, and lack of empathy make a good start.

Edited by Karger
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1 hour ago, Karger said:

In other words a fully realized lightweaver of the 5th ideal would have to be aware of their failings as a sibling, parent, child, friend, radiant, spouse, etc and be OK WITH IT!!!  Or at least manage to deal with it without lying to themselves or avoiding thinking about it.  Does anyone on this form think that they are realy capable of this?

Yeah, kind of. It makes perfect sense, because all your failings are in the past, and you can do nothing with your past, so you have to accept your failings and move on. But you still have to remember about them and not lie to yourself, that you didn't fail. Or it wasn't you. Yes, it was terrible, but there is no point circling around it and blaming yourself endlessly, you still have a life to live and work to do.

7 minutes ago, HSuperLee said:

Oh good gosh. Y'all just made me respect OB Shallan. Before my biggest complaint was that she was fracturing rather than progressing and that didn't make sense, and now y'all made it make sense. Welp. I can't bash Shallan anymore now. Thanks y'all. Now I need to find another character to be annoyed at. 

Oh my, you made my day! :D

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3 minutes ago, Karger said:

Try Jasnah (I actually love her) but her recourse to assassins, poor leadership, and lack of empathy make a good start.

I'm getting really tired of people claiming Jasnah is a sociopath/incapable of empathy because she's not and claiming that she is is a gross misrepresentation of the character.

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Apparent lack of empathy

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22 minutes ago, Karger said:

Try Jasnah (I actually love her) but her recourse to assassins, poor leadership, and lack of empathy make a good start.

 

17 minutes ago, CrazyRioter said:

I'm getting really tired of people claiming Jasnah is a sociopath/incapable of empathy because she's not and claiming that she is is a gross misrepresentation of the character.

 

15 minutes ago, Karger said:

Apparent lack of empathy

Just a reminder that we pretty much only see Jasnah through other people's point of view, predominantly Shallan's, and Shallan is very much not an objective observer. We only see what Shallan perceives of Jasnah. However, given what we do get from Jasnah's PoV, I would say that she is very much capable of empathy and compassion.

Edited by RShara
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As it has been acknowledged above, one of Shallan's truths is " I'm terrified. "

So, what does it mean when she feels

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"So warm. Comfortable. And strikingly unfamiliar. What was this peace? This place without fear?

for Adolin?

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Just now, insert_anagram_here said:

As it has been acknowledged above, one of Shallan's truths is " I'm terrified. "

So, what does it mean when she feels

for Adolin?

That she's found a place that she's comfortable enough to actually relax and let the constant fear drop. 

Seems fairly straightforward to me. 

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4 minutes ago, Calderis said:

That she's found a place that she's comfortable enough to actually relax and let the constant fear drop. 

So stagnate and not face her truths. Yes, fairly straightforward, indeed.

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Okay, so this is the moment where we disagree then. To me, it reads that the self that accepts this place without fear isn't the same as the one that accepted 'I'm terrified'.

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Why should she have to be terrified all the time? She's so scared all the time, she shouldn't have to continue to feel terrified all the time to progress as a Knight, that'd be terrible.

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Just now, Sedside said:

So stagnate and not face her truths. Yes, fairly straightforward, indeed.

If that's the way you choose to see it. 

I personally think that a break from the constant terror is exactly what she needs to allow time for actual introspection. 

1 minute ago, insert_anagram_here said:

Okay, so this is the moment where we disagree then. To me, it reads that the self that accepts this place without fear isn't the same as the one that accepted 'I'm terrified'.

Accepting that she's fear driven doesn't mean she has to constantly live in fear. 

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Just now, Greywatch said:

Why should she have to be terrified all the time? She's so scared all the time, she shouldn't have to continue to feel terrified all the time to progress as a Knight, that'd be terrible.

Because she needs to face her truths and fears to progress, not to run from them. I think it's like what whole her arc is about. And not only hers.

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