Xerun

My theory for Kaladins 4th Oath

16 posts in this topic

So for the longest time everyone has said they think that Kaladins 4th Oath is “I will forgive myself for those I cannot save” and I have disagreed. Not because I don’t think that’s his Oath. But because I think from a Literary perspective that it makes more sense for that to be his 5th Oath. At his core Kaladin’s biggest issue has been his inability to accept failure. And so for his character to come full circle it only makes sense for him to resolve that as his 5th Oath. 

So, into his 4th. I have always believed that this Oath will be about accepting that to protect you may have to kill. My reasoning for this is in the first book Kaladin goes and kills a lot of Listeners. At the end and through Words of Radiance he questions Syl why it was ok for him to kill them but not Elhokar. For the final battle of book 2 Kaladin finds himself out of action against the Listeners and we get what I think is our first glimpse into Kaladins issue. He only fights Szeth and he doesn’t kill him. He wounds him and the storm kills Szeth. 
 

then in Oathbringer in Kholinar Kaladin fights against the Fused and Singers. But he’s conflicted. He’s made friends with a lot of the Singers from earlier and now has to watch his friends fight against each other. Then he fails Elhokar. 
 

Now in chapter 8 Kaladin reasons with himself that he should finish off Moash and finds himself unable to do so. 
 

if we query the gemstone archive epigraph from Oathbringer, a Windrunner says he will soon swear the 4th Oath. But he’s not sure he can. Shouldn’t he want to help people? The wording has always made me question. How does being ok with not saving people directly go against wanting to help people. It doesn’t. You can be ok with failure because you’re still trying to help. But directly killing people who will cause harm does seem to be against helping people. 
 

 

anyway that’s my reasoning, mostly I think Kaladin being ok with his failings leaves him nowhere to grow in the 5th Oath. And his 5th Oath should really be the climax growth of his character. 

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This is an interesting alternative theory on Kal's fourth oath.

I have, like most people, assumed that it will be something along the lines of accepting that he can't save everyone.

But with the release of the preview chapters I've begun to think about another possibility - something along the lines of acknowledging that sometimes he is the one in need of protection and allowing others to do the protecting. Think about all of the characters who have come around to check on Kaladin and how he reflexively shrinks away from it every time.

The more I think about it, the more I like it, because it's also the oath that will lead to Kal gaining a form of self-protection in Shardplate. Something along the lines of allowing others to protect him would also tie in nicely with Kal's longstanding depression. It's so hard when in the grips of depression to acknowledge that you need help and accept it from others. It all just seems to fit.

Would love to hear others' thoughts.

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On 8/25/2020 at 2:33 PM, Xerun said:

He only fights Szeth and he doesn’t kill him. He wounds him and the storm kills Szeth. 

In my book, he kills him dead with a shardblade, and burns his eyes out. I haven't forgiven Brandon for the awkward ret-con, and since I've only ever read or owned an edition of the book in which Kaladin kills Szeth with Syl, I consider that canon. Unfortunately, I when the leatherbound WoR comes out, I suspect they'll use the ret-con, not the original, which is a mess just waiting to happen.

50 minutes ago, mdross81 said:

But with the release of the preview chapters I've begun to think about another possibility - something along the lines of acknowledging that sometimes he is the one in need of protection and allowing others to do the protecting.

Yeah, I'm picking up those signals as well, first from the fight with Sigzil, then when Renarin has to save him from Moash/Odium/depression. "I can't protect others without being protected myself" sounds awkward, but is closer to the point.

The only problem is, this doesn't really apply to his circumstance in OB when he fails to say the words. There's nobody there to protect him. Adolin and Shallan are the ones he needs to protect, as well as Dalinar in another realm, but there's no indication that this oath would fit in that circumstance.

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35 minutes ago, Rainier said:

In my book, he kills him dead with a shardblade, and burns his eyes out. I haven't forgiven Brandon for the awkward ret-con, and since I've only ever read or owned an edition of the book in which Kaladin kills Szeth with Syl, I consider that canon. Unfortunately, I when the leatherbound WoR comes out, I suspect they'll use the ret-con, not the original, which is a mess just waiting to happen.

 

What do you mean? BS retconned Kaladin vs Szeth?

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I've always thought this would be the 5th oath and the 4th would be something along the lines of "I will protect all even from myself". This would be a huuuuuuge character turn for Kaladin because he'd have to obey this oath which would mean he wouldn't let his depression and indecision cripple him anymore. 

 

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2 hours ago, Commander Azure said:

What do you mean? BS retconned Kaladin vs Szeth?

Yep. He changed it to Kal stabbing Szeths arm which disconnects him from the Honorblade and he falls to his death. It’s one of the main things that made me think of this theory as Kal didn’t seem to care about Killing until the Parshendi at the end of book 1. So it makes me think it’s an Oath related retcon. 

 

4 hours ago, mdross81 said:

This is an interesting alternative theory on Kal's fourth oath.

I have, like most people, assumed that it will be something along the lines of accepting that he can't save everyone.

But with the release of the preview chapters I've begun to think about another possibility - something along the lines of acknowledging that sometimes he is the one in need of protection and allowing others to do the protecting. Think about all of the characters who have come around to check on Kaladin and how he reflexively shrinks away from it every time.

The more I think about it, the more I like it, because it's also the oath that will lead to Kal gaining a form of self-protection in Shardplate. Something along the lines of allowing others to protect him would also tie in nicely with Kal's longstanding depression. It's so hard when in the grips of depression to acknowledge that you need help and accept it from others. It all just seems to fit.

Would love to hear others' thoughts.

I really like this. And I can see this being true. I just feel like the 4th Oath having Kaladin accept his failures may not leave him room for character development for a 5th Oath. 
 

19 minutes ago, Kered said:

I've always thought this would be the 5th oath and the 4th would be something along the lines of "I will protect all even from myself". This would be a huuuuuuge character turn for Kaladin because he'd have to obey this oath which would mean he wouldn't let his depression and indecision cripple him anymore. 

 

The main reason I have this theory is because I can’t see Kaladins depression being managed until he swears the 5th Oath and maybe not even then. Coming to terms with his failings seems like the conclusion to his character arc. 

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I really like the idea that forgiving himself for those he is unable to protect will be the Fifth oath, and actually, this would be a fantastic continuance from what I believe could be the Fourth oath.  I think the next oath up is going to be something like: "I will protect myself before others if necessary, even if it means their deaths, so that I may continue to protect those I can."

I feel that this would be a great fit to the Windrunner conflict from the gemstone archive, the question of "am I not supposed to want to protect others?".

Edited by SteelShaper
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On 8/28/2020 at 5:33 PM, Xerun said:

He changed it to Kal stabbing Szeths arm which disconnects him from the Honorblade and he falls to his death.

Which is doubly dumb because the Honorblade isn't bonded to the man's hand, it's bonded to his soul! That's why it dropped when Kaladin killed Szeth, but shouldn't have dropped when Szeth got his arm chopped off (spiritually). Argh!

As for Kaladin's oaths, I don't think oath 4 or 5 are going to have more to do with protecting, because that's only one of the two divine attributes for the Windrunners. There's only four oaths, and he hasn't sworn anything about leading, just protecting. I expect 4+5 to have to do with accepting leadership, which means letting other people put themselves in danger on your behalf. I don't expect four oaths all in a row on how to protect people, and I expect all other Radiant oaths to balance between their two Divine Attributes.

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On 8/31/2020 at 1:46 PM, Rainier said:

As for Kaladin's oaths, I don't think oath 4 or 5 are going to have more to do with protecting, because that's only one of the two divine attributes for the Windrunners. There's only four oaths, and he hasn't sworn anything about leading, just protecting. I expect 4+5 to have to do with accepting leadership, which means letting other people put themselves in danger on your behalf. I don't expect four oaths all in a row on how to protect people, and I expect all other Radiant oaths to balance between their two Divine Attributes.

Perhaps then, considering the divine attribute of leadership, it will be more about choosing sides or prioritizing the people in his line of command, like, “I will protect my leaders and those under my leadership over all others.” He was oathbound to Elhokar, but not to the parsh he’d helped. It could also be about being willing to kill enemy soldiers(those not under his leadership), even if he likes them or sees them as innocents, if it means protecting his own people. But I also like the idea of it being about not throwing his life away, and I agree that self-forgiveness should be 5th. 

Edited by LightReader
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3 hours ago, LightReader said:

“I will protect my leaders and those under my leadership over all others.”

That's still protecting, not leading.

3 hours ago, LightReader said:

But I also like the idea of it being about not throwing his life away

Try, "I will let others die in my place." That jives with the epigraph where the Windrunner was wondering, isn't he supposed to protect people. Seeing the other oaths, there's a clause I'm missing, but I'm guessing the fourth oath is going to have to do with letting people die. For this, he needs to learn from his father. Lirin knows the value in accepting and moving on from death, as aptly demonstrated by Roshone Younger. I see lots of theories about Lirin but I think his next role is to help Kaladin say the fourth oath, by allowing him to accept the deaths of others.

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31 minutes ago, Rainier said:

That's still protecting, not leading.

Try, "I will let others die in my place." That jives with the epigraph where the Windrunner was wondering, isn't he supposed to protect people. Seeing the other oaths, there's a clause I'm missing, but I'm guessing the fourth oath is going to have to do with letting people die. For this, he needs to learn from his father. Lirin knows the value in accepting and moving on from death, as aptly demonstrated by Roshone Younger. I see lots of theories about Lirin but I think his next role is to help Kaladin say the fourth oath, by allowing him to accept the deaths of others.

This makes sense. We know he fills a surgeon role soon and this could help him come to terms with the death around him. He doesn’t create those deaths and it does no one any good, especially the one who passed, to assume guilt over said death. Accepting that will allow him to move past guilt and truly accept a leadership role. 

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On 02/09/2020 at 3:17 AM, Rainier said:

I see lots of theories about Lirin but I think his next role is to help Kaladin say the fourth oath, by allowing him to accept the deaths of others.

  1. Accepting losses is strictly speaking not leadership. In fact an officer must be ready to give orders that cause losses.
  2. the gem archive says "want to protect". The literal interpretation is incompatible with that.
On 02/09/2020 at 3:50 AM, paperstones said:

This makes sense. We know he fills a surgeon role soon and this could help him come to terms with the death around him. He doesn’t create those deaths and it does no one any good, especially the one who passed, to assume guilt over said death. Accepting that will allow him to move past guilt and truly accept a leadership role. 

But Kaladin's specifics cannot explain the general theme of the Windrunner oath. A Knight Radiant outside a desolation had the same issue.

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5 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Accepting losses is strictly speaking not leadership. In fact an officer must be ready to give orders that cause losses.

An officer must be ready to give orders that cause losses, but accepting losses isn't leadership? What kind of sense does that make? Kaladin needs to be OK with sending men to their deaths. He is not OK with sending men to their deaths, and carries each death with him, weighing him down. He needs to learn that his impulse to protect is preventing him from realizing his potential to lead

 

5 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

A Knight Radiant outside a desolation had the same issue.

5 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

the gem archive says "want to protect". The literal interpretation is incompatible with that.

You're supposed to want to protect people, but you have to learn to let them risk their lives, and die, because as the leader you need to value the goals of the organization over the lives of any individual member. Whether it's a desolation or not, the transition from bodyguard to general is not an easy one, but that's the path we're going with Kaladin. That;s what the gemstone archive was hinting at, that leaders are not about protecting everyone, they're about making necessary sacrifices to achieve the goals you're striving for.

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On 04/09/2020 at 4:42 PM, Rainier said:

An officer must be ready to give orders that cause losses, but accepting losses isn't leadership? What kind of sense does that make?

A mere passive acceptance is not enough. You must be able to give orders sacrificing some of your men. You went on to make the point. I think this is a difference about language.

On 04/09/2020 at 4:42 PM, Rainier said:

Kaladin needs to be OK with sending men to their deaths. He is not OK with sending men to their deaths, and carries each death with him, weighing him down. He needs to learn that his impulse to protect is preventing him from realizing his potential to lead

Correct but incomplete. Remember the battle in the palace of Kholinar. Kaladin was unable to kill Singers he knew. Now, in some sense this is actually what his oaths demand. A troop of half-trained Singers against a Knight Radiant with a Shardblade need protection. And even if he hated them, them fighting for their freedom is right.

On 04/09/2020 at 4:42 PM, Rainier said:

You're supposed to want to protect people, but you have to learn to let them risk their lives, and die, because as the leader you need to value the goals of the organization over the lives of any individual member.

Again true but incomplete. You also need to value the goals of the organization over the lives of the enemy or innocent bystanders.

I know that this may seem to be trivial to many, but we saw Kaladin having major troubles with that.

On 04/09/2020 at 4:42 PM, Rainier said:

Whether it's a desolation or not, the transition from bodyguard to general is not an easy one, but that's the path we're going with Kaladin. That;s what the gemstone archive was hinting at, that leaders are not about protecting everyone, they're about making necessary sacrifices to achieve the goals you're striving for.

Yes, so Kaladin is struggling with

  • simple failure leading to losses
  • killing enemies fighting for a morally justified cause
  • sacrifing a few to save the many (A Windrunner would never put it that way. Maybe an Elsecaller or Skybreaker would. - Windrunners will say something like I will accept that my men endanger themselves to protect people they must protect)

The first struggle that is written so often about in this thread is entirely internal and frankly just means accepting that even a Windrunner is not omnipotent. I am afraid this cannot be the base of an oath common to all Windrunners. So the 4th and 5th oath look like they are based on the latter two principles.
As Kaladin broke down as he faced his Singer friends I would say that the order I gave is the order in the actual oaths. Of course Windrunners won't something as crass as "I will kill the enemy however noble or justified their cause be". Probably something like:

I accept that whoever takes up arms against me, my people or those I must protect deserves no protection.

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The divine attributes aren't that relevant.  They're a Vorin theological construct, not a realmatic framework for the Oaths.

I won't say there's nothing to be gained from looking at them when trying to predict what an order's oaths are, but trying to fit them into a framework of "This order's attributes are X and Y, so two oaths are about X and two are about Y." is looking at it backwards, IMO.

Edited by clockworkspider
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Szeths encounters with the skybreakers and tefts 3rd ideal show that while each persons ideals follow similar topics and ideas, they are still individualized. i beleive that the 'standard' 4th ideal of the windrunners is the acceptance of not being able to protect everyone, and that kaladin won't ever be able to swear it, and will instead eventually develop some alternative 4th ideal for himself, specifically a refusal to accept that he cannot protect everyone, and an affirmation to try to do exactly that, something like "i swear to protect everyone, even knowing that i will fail", rather than him trying to change himself to be a more 'standard' windrunner

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