Harfyn

Shallan's Childhood Secret (Theory Time!)

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After reading Chapter 8, wanted to open up a thread for specifically discussing what Shallan needs to realize about herself. We know from Veil and Pattern that there is something more Shallan needs to realize/understand about her past. Given that we saw Radiant in plate at the end of OB, Shallan has some oaths that were already spoken that we need her to re-speak on screen (or, I think so).

So what could her final secret be? (not her final ideal - I think that will be more related to how she handles these things)

  • It's likely there was an Unmade influencing her family, maybe something related to this?
  • 4th/nth alters that are hidden - Perhaps the one she created first, before Radiant and Veil
  • Some other family trauma (another sibling, perhaps? Shallan is running out of family)
  • Ghostbloods (Maybe Shallan is related to one of them?)
  • Helloran - maybe he left for a reason other than friction with Lin?
  • Something she soulcast at a young age - we see her shy away from Soulcasting subconsciously in OB - maybe it's connected to this secret?
  • SoH? Maybe... Restares is involved? Grasping at straws here - assuming he will be important this book, maybe he connects here.
  • "The girl who looked up" - What is something Shallan could have done that symbolized her "Looking up" at a young age? This could be the thing she blames herself for most
  • Maybe something with a Herald? I could see her mother or the lover having been a herald
  • Could be greater-cosmere related, somehow - Maybe has to do with Hoid's interest with her and her family
  • Big stretch, but maybe something with the old magic/cultivation? I think there have been almost no hints about this other than Shallan's affinity for plants/animals, but her memory could be one of Cultivation/the Nightwatcher's "Prunings" (the timing on this might not make sense - I think its unlikely she got the nightwatcher, and doesn't cultivation say it had been a long time since she personally visited someone in OB?)

What do you think? What did I miss? Shallan is one of my favorite characters to theorize about - let's dig in!

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I'm guessing she did something innocent as a child, but with terrible consequences.  Like lightweaving an illusion to trick someone, except it went all wrong and set in motion the downfall of her family.

I'm sad that the impression is that whatever the deeper truth is, it's apparently painful.  Like, even more painful than murdering her own parents.  Is this just Shallan or all Lightweaver truths/oaths not just a reflection about themselves, but a dark one?   It'd be nice for her final truth to be something like, "Despite my deeds I'm not a bad person."

Edited by Zelly
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Her past secrets until now have been in some way self defense: Her mother was clearly trying to kill her and her Father, after being abussive for a very long time, was indangering  the lifes of the rest of his family. Killing someone is always a horrible deed, but in This scenarios one could argue the morality of what Shallan did. I believe that this next truth will be something Shallan did that, thow probably not intentional, has no possible justification.

Also if we notest a pattern: the first truth killing her Father Made us think as we got to learn that story that he had kill her mother. But, then we learned that it was she who killed her mother. I think the same kind of relation will be between the moment she killed her mother and this new truth. Maybe one of the reasons her mother decided she was a danger or beleived and outside opinion( be there the Skybreakers or someone else) that she was a danger was because of this horrible thing she had aleeady done.

Tinhat part because I don't think this actually makes sense according to Brandon's interest on a more realistic DID representation: Veil has always felt like a very real part of Shallan and now is this part that wants her to remember. So maybe Shallan killed Veil!!!! Or more accurately Shallan killed a darkeyes girl she used to play with probably the daughter of a house maid or servant. Veil is her way of keeping that girl alive within herself 

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IRL DID does correlate to various forms of childhood abuse

Quote
Causes. The main cause of DID is believed to be severe and prolonged trauma experienced during childhood, including emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

I am not sure how Brandon plans to cover that if it is his choice.

Edited by Karger
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It seems that a big part of what we don't know about Shallan is the beginning of her path to Radiancy.  I'm guessing that the memories she doesn't want to, well, remember, surround her swearing of the First Ideal, or perhaps the reason she felt she needed to take that step.

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Whatever it is, we'll hopefully get a 5th oath Radiant by the end of the book!!!!

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Shallan wasnt born Davar. She is the daughter of Cultivation's vessel. She was picked up by Davars when she was very little and their memory was twisted by Cultivation herself so they treat Shallan like the member of the family.

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2 hours ago, Harbour said:

Shallan wasnt born Davar. She is the daughter of Cultivation's vessel. She was picked up by Davars when she was very little and their memory was twisted by Cultivation herself so they treat Shallan like the member of the family.

While this is a very interesting theory, I don't think there is very much evidence or foreshadowing for it in the story yet.
Could totally prove me wrong though, or we could get massive hints in the first parts of RoW that lead into this, so by no means is it a dead theory

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2 hours ago, Harbour said:

Shallan wasnt born Davar. She is the daughter of Cultivation's vessel. She was picked up by Davars when she was very little and their memory was twisted by Cultivation herself so they treat Shallan like the member of the family.

I do believe there is WoB confirming that Shallan is her parents' biological daughter, although there might be other ways Cultivation has influenced her.

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13 hours ago, Zelly said:

I'm guessing she did something innocent as a child, [...] except it went all wrong and set in motion the downfall of her family.

...

I think @Zelly has it right, and there's evidence in WoR (page numbers from Kindle version). Something happened in her father's garden when she was very young.

From an early conversation with Pattern on the ship:

Quote

She could almost see it. The deck in front of her changing to a dirt path, her box becoming a stone bench. Faintly. Not really there, but almost. Her father’s gardens. Pattern on the ground, drawn in the dust . . . 
“Remember,” Pattern said, voice like a whisper. 
No, Shallan thought, horrified. NO! 
The image vanished. It hadn’t really been there in the first place, had it? She raised her safehand to her breast, breathing in and out in sharp gasps. No.

Ch.6 p105 

From another conversation with Pattern:

Quote

The image was of herself. Shallan, as she should be. Curled in a huddle on the bed, unable to weep for she had long since run out of tears. This girl . . . not a woman, a girl . . . flinched whenever spoken to. She expected everyone to shout at her. She could not laugh, for laughter had been squeezed from her by a childhood of darkness and pain. 
That was the real Shallan. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name. The person she had become instead was a lie, one she had fabricated in the name of survival. To remember herself as a child, discovering Light in the gardens, Patterns in the stonework, and dreams that became real . . . 
“Mmmm . . . Such a deep lie,” Pattern whispered. “A deep lie indeed. But still, you must obtain your abilities. Learn again, if you have to.”

Ch. 60 p737/738

Hoid speaking to young Shallan at the Middlefest:

Quote

"[...] Tell me, young one. Do spren speak to you?” 
The lights going out, life drained from them. 
Twisted symbols the eye should not see. 
Her mother’s soul in a box.

Ch.45 p526

There's two possible interpretations for "The lights going out, life drained from them."

1. She sucked in stormlight from spheres.

2. She saw lights in Shadesmar going out, meaning real lives lost. 

I tend towards 2.

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Shallan killed Shallan and has been an unknowing ghost the entire time.

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On 8/25/2020 at 3:18 PM, Harfyn said:

 

  • Something she soulcast at a young age - we see her shy away from Soulcasting subconsciously in OB - maybe it's connected to this secret?

 

On 8/25/2020 at 7:29 PM, Zelly said:

I'm guessing she did something innocent as a child, but with terrible consequences.  Like lightweaving an illusion to trick someone, except it went all wrong and set in motion the downfall of her family.

I'm sad that the impression is that whatever the deeper truth is, it's apparently painful.  Like, even more painful than murdering her own parents.  Is this just Shallan or all Lightweaver truths/oaths not just a reflection about themselves, but a dark one.   It'd be nice for her final truth to be something like, "Despite my deeds I'm not a bad person."

 What if she soulcast a person when she was a child (on accident) ... that would be pretty horrifying. Though I could see biggest point against this would be wouldn't she trigger harder off of Jasnah soulcasting those muggers in WoK. I'll have to read that section again.

Regarding final oath I like the idea you put forth, I was thinking if it's a childhood accident for number 4, number 5 might be: "I forgive myself" or "it's ok to forgive myself" as the repressing of the memories for her earlier truths seems to be tied up with a sense of guilt not just pain.

Edited by Dreamwa1ker
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What if Shallan lightweaved her mother's lover into existence? 

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18 minutes ago, Fussell said:

What if Shallan lightweaved her mother's lover into existence?

Dramatic.  Welcome to the shard.  I don't think this likely for the obvious reasons but it would be interesting.

I think it will be the realization that her family was never happy and maybe she tried a couple of lightweavings to fix things that made everything worse.  IE nice conversations that never happened turn into arguments. 

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Honestly, I think another deep, dark secret is slightly repetitive. I expect more from Sanderson. Hopefully when the secret is revealed it will be something different than the usual, Oh yeah, I also killed this person.

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On 8/29/2020 at 7:49 PM, Calderis said:

Personally, I don't think that Shallan's last truth needs to be one single event that happened in her past. I think it's her whole childhood. I think Wit has already told her her final Truth and she just hasn't realized it or faced it yet. 

Look at the first truth we see her speak on screen. "I'm terrified." I don't think that's a truth of just that moment. She's a totally fear driven character. Everything about her is run, or hide. 

I think this last truth will be the same idea. It's bigger than just one thing. Every time her childhood comes up it's always this image of the perfect family in her head. A fairy tale of what she wishes her family could have been, placing all the blame for the trauma squarely on her shoulders for killing her mother. And it doesn't add up at all. 

Her father let everyone believe that he'd killed his wife in a jealous rage, and everyone was perfectly willing to believe it. Her mother tried to kill her. These are things that don't come out of nowhere. 

But she blames herself for all of it. In the same way a small child blames themselves for their parents getting divorced. 

I think the lie that attracted Pattern in the first place relates to this. I think Shallan was a frightened and confused little girl in a chaotic household filled with violence, and she just wanted to pretend that everything was alright. And we know where that led. Her mother trying to kill her because she was "one of them." 

I think her final Truth is going to be what Wit already told her. She doesn't deserve any of the the pain she's been through. She is not responsible for the pain and suffering of her family. No matter how much it hurts her to say it, no matter how much she loved them, her family was not perfect and none of what happened was her fault. 

Adding to this, in Shallan's flashbacks, we see that she's constantly trying to make things better for her brothers and help them deal with their more self destructive habits. If she blames herself for everything wrong with her family, this could be a part of it, where she takes responsibility for trying to improve things, but she was never really going to be able to fix her family. She's just a little girl and her father and brothers had issues that were far beyond what she was capable of repairing.

I'd much rather her final secret/truth be something like this, it already bothers me that two of her truths were something she did rather than something she is, but this final idea (she blames herself more than she should / it's okay for her to be happy) could kind of compliment that. She's defined herself by the things she's done, but that's really not fair to herself. It would also be nice to see a Lightweaver truth be something positive, rather than revealing some dark secret.

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17 minutes ago, LuckyJim said:

I'd much rather her final secret/truth be something like this, it already bothers me that two of her truths were something she did rather than something she is, but this final idea (she blames herself more than she should / it's okay for her to be happy) could kind of compliment that. She's defined herself by the things she's done, but that's really not fair to herself. It would also be nice to see a Lightweaver truth be something positive, rather than revealing some dark secret.

100% agreement.

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Would it be possible that Shallan was actually the Fabriel and she was responsible for the wealth her family accumulated? That mental block could also be why it is so hard for her to soul cast.

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So this took an even stranger turn in chapter 9.  Shallan talks about her deep secret being unknown by everyone, including Pattern.

I'm assuming that means before she ever met him and started lightweaving, she'd already done this terrible thing? And how young was she at this point??

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2 hours ago, Zelly said:

So this took an even stranger turn in chapter 9.  Shallan talks about her deep secret being unknown by everyone, including Pattern.

I'm assuming that means before she ever met him and started lightweaving, she'd already done this terrible thing? And how young was she at this point??

If the bond was new enough, Pattern was not very sentient.

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2 hours ago, Zelly said:

So this took an even stranger turn in chapter 9.  Shallan talks about her deep secret being unknown by everyone, including Pattern.

I'm assuming that means before she ever met him and started lightweaving, she'd already done this terrible thing? And how young was she at this point??

At least younger than 11 cause that's around the age she killed her mother.

I'm guessing this deep dark secret, whatever it may be( I speculated in an earlier post on this thread), had such an impact on her that she forced herself to hide behind the mask we now know as Shallan and to push her up-to-that-point personality to the darkest corner of her subconscious where over time,broken and hurt, became the now feared Formless.

It was probably this original lie of who she really was that attracted the criptics in the first place, among perhaps other reasons related to her family and the heavily speculated Unmade possible pressence that with some hope Brandon will tell or hint us on November.

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On 8/29/2020 at 7:49 PM, Calderis said:

Personally, I don't think that Shallan's last truth needs to be one single event that happened in her past. I think it's her whole childhood. I think Wit has already told her her final Truth and she just hasn't realized it or faced it yet. 

Look at the first truth we see her speak on screen. "I'm terrified." I don't think that's a truth of just that moment. She's a totally fear driven character. Everything about her is run, or hide. 

I think this last truth will be the same idea. It's bigger than just one thing. Every time her childhood comes up it's always this image of the perfect family in her head. A fairy tale of what she wishes her family could have been, placing all the blame for the trauma squarely on her shoulders for killing her mother. And it doesn't add up at all. 

Her father let everyone believe that he'd killed his wife in a jealous rage, and everyone was perfectly willing to believe it. Her mother tried to kill her. These are things that don't come out of nowhere. 

But she blames herself for all of it. In the same way a small child blames themselves for their parents getting divorced. 

I think the lie that attracted Pattern in the first place relates to this. I think Shallan was a frightened and confused little girl in a chaotic household filled with violence, and she just wanted to pretend that everything was alright. And we know where that led. Her mother trying to kill her because she was "one of them." 

I think her final Truth is going to be what Wit already told her. She doesn't deserve any of the the pain she's been through. She is not responsible for the pain and suffering of her family. No matter how much it hurts her to say it, no matter how much she loved them, her family was not perfect and none of what happened was her fault. 

 

On 8/31/2020 at 11:02 AM, LuckyJim said:

Adding to this, in Shallan's flashbacks, we see that she's constantly trying to make things better for her brothers and help them deal with their more self destructive habits. If she blames herself for everything wrong with her family, this could be a part of it, where she takes responsibility for trying to improve things, but she was never really going to be able to fix her family. She's just a little girl and her father and brothers had issues that were far beyond what she was capable of repairing.

I'd much rather her final secret/truth be something like this, it already bothers me that two of her truths were something she did rather than something she is, but this final idea (she blames herself more than she should / it's okay for her to be happy) could kind of compliment that. She's defined herself by the things she's done, but that's really not fair to herself. It would also be nice to see a Lightweaver truth be something positive, rather than revealing some dark secret.

It is fascinating the dissonance between what Shallan being the unreliable narrator that she is tells us and what we actually end up seeing on screen. The issues in the house are clearly far deeper than Shallan would like to admit. She saw everything going on in the house and tried to make things right as best she could. She tried to reform her brothers who time and again fall into old habits. She tried to help her father, but ended up living in fear of him. She does place all of this on her shoulders blame for things that she expected to be able to solve on her own. Mind you she also thinks that if the true her were known then she would be rejected by those who care about her. Why is that? I agree that there does not need to be some dark dramatic secret to be revealed. I think that in line with some of what has been said that the key may lie in the fact that she blames the house problems on herself. I think that her deep truth is that she cannot fix everything. The problems in her family were always too great for her to take on and that what happened to her family happened because of their decisions not because of anything that she did or did not do. 

I think that this secret is something that she is not only aware of, but that she is terrified to accept that her family hurt themselves not her. It is far easier for her to blame herself than to admit that she was unable to help those whom she loved/loves because they were self destructive in ways that she could not change.

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Crazy tenuous, probably not actually related, time. Mistborn spoilers below.

Spoiler

When I hear formless, it makes me think Kandra.  Is Shallan a Kandra?

  Extremely unlikely, but makes me think!

Edited by dbulick
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I like this thread and these ideas.

My other two theories on this are:

1. She "killed" Pattern/broke her oaths to him. On purpose. So after the trauma of killing her mother, she could have denounced her bond and because she wasn't far enough along, it didn't dead-eye Pattern, but did set him back? 

2. She was used to kill others at the direction of her father/her father's partners after he realized she had a shard blade (hence her horror at using Pattern as a blade--she amnesia'd it). Though she has little memory of using her blade after killing her mother (or of Pattern at all), it could already have been dissociated away.

 

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