1. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    To be remorseful or not to be remorseful...(also a question I probably OUGHT to answer myself)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CMastah, Dec 26, 2014.

    Here's the situation:

    A kid from a different race (literally different race, like think elven or dwarven) gets struck by an older human child (humans being the majority and causing much of the grief for that kid) who was clearly happy to do so for pleasure (bullying). The kid is tough and knocks the human down.

    The thing is, the bullying reminded the kid of her traumatic past (humans murdered her family) and it hurt her to see the same disdainful smile on the human boy's face. Where I'm stuck now is (not literally stuck, I'm still writing, I just don't know if this is specific part is what I want) whether she felt remorse immediately after doing so. She's not SLIGHTLY stronger than the older boy, she's much stronger (she'd been working out daily for a few years at this point). I intend for her to be emotionally stronger at this point (than she was immediately following the murders) and that it was the boy's recognizable grin that hurt her.

    The boy who attacked her was a complete stranger to her (he attacked her because he's the bullying type and she's from a minority). My first response was that she knocks him down then confronts him with anger and contempt (she IS still a kid after all (she's ten), but she's probably written a bit more intelligent than you'd find a ten year old), but then I got to thinking I don't want readers to find her cold.

    Personally? I've read of remorseful characters in other novels and I've never liked that section because I felt it was unrealistic. There was a section in a novel called codex alera (the second book I think....also, spoilers) where a kid (forgot his age...14? 16?) gets attacked by people who've been regularly bullying him at the worst possible time (he was running as fast as he could to save one of only two remaining blood relatives who loved and raised him (this one specifically was like a mother to him)). They were looking to have fun bullying him while he was trying to save his aunt's life, and after he knocked them both down (breaking the jaw of one), he immediately felt remorseful that he hurt them (and they were MUCH stronger than him, he was simply the more skilled). I hated that he felt remorse because in THIS situation they were looking to get their kicks at a time when, again, someone who was so important to him was going to die. I personally stopped being able to connect to the character at that scene because being a good, nice person is one thing, but this was (I felt) unrelateable.

    The thing is, my intention for this kid is that she IS a good, sweet person who doesn't lack for self confidence. She's got someone by her side, offering her strength, so she doesn't feel alone in the world (and doesn't hate the world either). When I think about it, I guess I can see her being remorseful (again, she was clearly stronger than the boy, this would be like an MMA guy knocking down a rude juvenile), but my original take was that she's angry and contemptuous of him (it feels more appropriate to a kid's reaction when they're bullied).
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel the need for more details on "knocks the human down." Do you mean that she literally just pushed them down? That she beat them up? That she hit them with a full-strength punch and knocked them out? That she broke their nose?

    If A hits B, and B shoves A so that A falls down, but doesn't press the advantage and hurt A substantially more than that, I can't really see any reason for B to be remorseful. Oh, if A is, say, four years old and three feet tall, and B is a six foot tall body builder, sure. But it doesn't sound like that sort of situation.
     
  3. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    The girl is almost five feet tall and is actually well muscled (again, not human. The females of her race are the stronger gender) while the boy is almost a foot taller. The boy struck her on the back of the head with a thick stick (and was about to do it again) and she turned around and punched him (once) down. It's not mentioned how much older the boy is (she doesn't know him and he only appears for that one scene), but it ought to be clear by his height (which I now realize I need to mention :p).

    EDIT: She also split his lip which is then bleeding.

    EDIT 2: She's also supposed to be somewhat taller than girls (human girls) her age, which is why I went with five feet, but I'm not sure how tall average ten year old girls are :p
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't see any reason for actual remorse. I could see her perhaps scolding herself for lack of discipline or for getting herself into trouble, but "remorse" makes me think, "Aw, the poor sweet boy, he was just trying to club me and I hit him! I'm so mean!"
     
  5. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think in that situation (putting myself in the dwarfs shoes) my natural reaction would be that they got what they deserved, and I would be quite happy I was the one to dish it out. I would have some righteous anger for a while, and probably be a little of a sanctimonious prick for a while longer. Then during the following night I would wake up feeling guilty, at which point I would have to forge a veneer of self-righteous indignation to keep the guilt at bay.
     
  6. !ndigo
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    !ndigo Member

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    If she feels she's in the right (he provoked her) then I don't think she'd feel remorse. It really depends on how badly she intended to hurt him v how badly he was hurt though. For example, if she just meant to shove him away but he fell and hit his head on a rock and was seriously injured then she'd probably feel bad.

    Given your situation I don't see any cause for remorse, I mean he could have killed her with a stick and all he got was a split lip, I think she'd feel angry at him and proud of her victory. Plus ten year old kids often don't have a super developed sense of empathy yet.

    If you want to bring her emotional state into it you could have an adult figure admonish her for her actions or something and then she'd have to reflect on it a bit.

    EDIT: somewhat unrelated but you might take a look at some growth charts like these for ideas on average size

    http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/growthcharts2/l/blgirlstwo.htm
    http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/growthcharts2/l/blboystwo.htm

    according to this the average 10y.o. girl would be between 4' 3 and 4' 11
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry if I'm going off-piste, but...
    1/ My wife, at 11, was 5 ft 3 ins, and she's only 1/2 inch taller than that now, so five feet tall at ten is NOT over-tall.

    2/ If the boy is a foot taller than her, and using a stick to hit her, he'll be quite a long way away from her, so for her to simply turn around and hit him...she won't be close enough, she won't have the reach.

    3/ She's a ten-year-old who's BEEN bullied, but is now in a better place? My understanding is that ten is when bullying really starts; OK, bullying happens younger, but it doesn't stop until the bullies either grow up, or get into somewhere like the workplace where the authority figures are more numerous and better able to maintain order. To "get through" the bullying by ten is unrealistic. IMO.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
  8. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Heheh, that was actually pretty funny and a good point :D


    On the 'could have killed her' bit, that's something I should expound (hope I'm using the right word) on because her minority aren't considered 'people', hence killing her would not have been considered murder either which is another problem with where she's at. The 'adult admonishing her' part is actually another issue that's going to occur because the human taking care of her (who doesn't consider her a person) will do worse than admonish her for attacking a human child. Any remorse she might have felt later will be replaced with fear for her safety (from the adult raising her).

    Plus thanks for the age chart :D


    1. Thanks, that actually helps a lot (I'm no good at telling height and need to get myself one of those tape measures).

    2. The thing is he's not reaching from afar, he's directly behind her, although I can see the reach problem. I think I'll fix that by having her lunge at him.

    3. She hasn't BEEN bullied, it was that her family was murdered and she felt traumatised until a 'kind' (refer to previous statements about this person :p) person helped her get over her fear and pain. She's in a better place because she thinks she's not alone (that person isn't the caring person the MC thinks she is).
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is going to come down to how you characterize the girl, but I wouldn't think an average girl would have any need to feel remorse for practising self-defense. If a kid hit a muscle-bound MMA fighter with a stick, I think the MMA fighter would be justified in pushing the kid away, and if the kid fell, too damn bad. So I can't see why things would be different for your girl.

    If your character has taken a vow of pacifism or something, maybe there's a reason for remorse. She'd have sinned against her own beliefs, rather than against the boy. But absent some sort of anti-violence belief system, I'd be annoyed with your character if she beat herself up about this.
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'm with BayView on this. Unless she took a vow of non-violence, I don't see why she'd feel bad for standing up for herself. At the worst, she'd probably suddenly realize the boy has many friends and she painted a huge target on herself. Nevertheless, she'd be happy that she didn't let herself get walked all over by the kid.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wanted to note that if a child torments a dog, and the dog snaps at them or even bites them, many adults are likely to say that it's not reasonable to blame the dog. The law may blame the dog, but general sentiment won't necessarily follow suit.

    Now, I don't know if this person likes your character as much as people like dogs. I just wanted to note that "not a person" doesn't necessarily mean a lack of sympathy.
     
  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To me it'd be ok if she didn't feel remorse. Among humans, she wouldn't be considered the stronger sex, right? If she was, she might feel cowardly (if she's more matured than your average 10yo human kid) and a bit remorseful, maybe, if she knocked the guy out or punched him silly when she could've just subdued him and maybe called up adults. That is, if she acts less like children in the playground would.

    'Cause a lot of men actually do feel really uncomfortable about defending themselves against a woman. They rather take the beating and subdue her instead of knock her down (even without any experience, it's usually possible for a man to overpower a woman).
     
  13. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    The issue is that the woman raising her is essentially a pro-human kind of person, she'd value the life of a convict over the child's (the woman was also ex-military and believes in human superiority over all, the culture within the human kingdoms is engineered by the ruling class to promote such). The woman changes over the course of the story, but it's this scene that illustrates to the kid where she stands with the woman and her (the kid's) need to find a new home.
     
  14. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Thanks guys for the help, I was worried about painting the character in an unsympathetic light because I'd seen other kids in novels feel remorse in such scenarios (and nope, I never understood those kids).
     

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