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  1. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    When a character murders a baby...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Oct 22, 2016.

    Sorry for the title, it was what I could think up of at the moment. In short, in my Colonial Mysteries, there is a character named David Maywalker who is mix-race. His father is the white landowner and his mother is a slave. At some point, he decides to lead a rebellion (a small one) where he ransacks the house and murders everyone. Even the small infant in her crib. With an axe. After he looks at her for a moment...considering it.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is...how can I handle David judicially? He is using the whole American Revolution (the setting of the story) to fight for his freedom, and that freedom comes at the cost of murdering an entire family including a baby. I am disgusted with the thought of him murdering a baby and want to kill him off but... Well, this is a sensitive topic and I don't want to be black and white about it. Yet this is what he does...he murders a baby for the crime of being the child of his slaveowners.

    I want to show David as this sympathetic character but somehow I don't think having him murder an infant for the sake of freedom is the way to go about it. Maybe I can show that he's just so desperate that he's willing to do whatever? I dunno, I suspect if I have David murder a child he would be unredeemable no matter how tragic I make his life.

    Interestingly enough, I did have another character -- Amelia -- who is a fellow slave who, upon discovering this, attempts to fight David. I can see her doing this in my head, but I'm having a bit of difficulty trying to figure out why she'd want to do it.

    Thoughts??
     
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  2. TheWriteWitch

    TheWriteWitch Active Member

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    Maybe David agonizes over it. He sees the consequences of what he did through the baby's life. The baby will grow up mentally scarred by the tragedy, set adrift in society, perhaps even sold into a different form of slavery. Perhaps David considers all this and then kills the baby as a tragic form of mercy?

    And perhaps Amelia doesn't want David to have to live with the high cost/horror of what he is doing?
     
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  3. Kara Gatsby

    Kara Gatsby Member

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    I admit that it would be hard for me to view him as tragic if he kills the baby simply for being the child of its parents.

    Could it be that he has witnessed firsthand the horrors of war/rebellion as a child? (As opposed to witnessing it as a rational, cynical, somewhat hardened adult) Or he knows someone else who has been scarred for life after growing up in the midst of something so violent? A father or grandfather, perhaps? You could soften it a bit by having him pledge to create a better world for future children. Maybe the baby becomes a symbol for him, something to keep him from giving up.

    An entirely different idea: Maybe Amelia knows that the baby is actually very sick, but David doesn't, so killing it isn't quite as inhumane.

    It sounds like a really interesting situation. I look forward to hearing more.
     
  4. Pauline

    Pauline Member

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    Really don't think you can make your character sympathetic if he kills a baby. That would be a total deal breaker for the 99.99999% of the population who think child murderers are abhorrent. No one cares what kind of trauma would make anyone do that.
     
  5. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Pretty big blanket you got there.
     
  6. Pauline

    Pauline Member

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    It goes with my puppy skin pillows. Any way go away my penguin pie is getting cold.
     
  7. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I'm just thankful that a large part of the population has a mouthpiece. Must be a burden.
     
  8. Pauline

    Pauline Member

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    Yes those baby murderers, feel bad for them. Might have to crowd fund them. Poor little snowflakes
     
  9. Dominique Parker

    Dominique Parker Member

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    I think you should let him kill the baby and keep the character alive. Let him agonize over what he's done, show me what he becomes because he made the decision to murder a child. There are many examples of characters that I was able to sympothize with who have done terrible things to children. The Hound and Jaime Lannister come to mind immediately,Bodie from The Wire is another relatively good example of this as well in my opinion. There are situational differences between your character and these character of course but I think you can make it work.
     
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  10. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    You have quite a talent. I don't even have to speak anymore! You'll do it for me. Or are you just putting words in my mouth? I can't tell.

    You should look up the definition of fiction. It might suit you to know that OP was talking about it, not real life.
     
  11. Pauline

    Pauline Member

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    LOL.
     
  12. WNP

    WNP Member

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    I don't think I could be sympathetic to a character after he killed an innocent baby. What if they didn't know there was a baby and they burnt the house down and only discovered afterwards? Or they stormed the house and one of his friends killed the baby without the MC knowing it was going to happen? I think those are the only ways I could still have any sympathy for him.

    Another potential route could be he discovers the baby, considers it, then decides he can't do it, and saves the baby and has to keep him a secret from his friends as a sub-plot. The baby could then die anyway from illness etc. and he could blame himself.
     
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  13. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Have him antagonise over it, leave the baby, then someone takes the axe from his hand and does it themselves.
     
    Kara Gatsby likes this.
  14. SKeyes

    SKeyes New Member

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    Make him sacrifice something in return. Having the character fixated on the murder is boring, but having him pay a price is a reasonable deal in my opinion.
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think I could forgive him if he was in a sort of berserker rage (like Logen in the First Law series, who is reasonably sympathetic even though he's done horrible things) or if he was clearly in some other state of temporary insanity (like the woman in The Joy Luck Club who drowned her own baby after being abused for so long). It's harder to see myself forgiving someone who actually stops and contemplates and then rationally decides to go forward. I can understand emotional frenzy that could lead to events like this, but I can't understand or accept an intellectual approach.
     
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  16. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Your character being a slave would have seen black children brutalized, separated from parents, bought and sold like livestock, young black girls used for sex by their masters, and all matter of unpleasantness. One could imagine some built up rage... perhaps your character lost a child due to the brutality of his master.

    It's interesting how emotional we get when it's a white baby.
     
  17. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Seriously?

    You think people wouldn't be at least as upset if this was a black baby killed by a white character? That's pretty insulting.

    The MC's traumatic history is the only thing that makes the murder remotely forgiveable. If it had been a white character killing a black baby, I would have had an even harder time getting past the horror.
     
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  18. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    There's no thread I know of where its a black child is killed, so we haven't seen the scenario. Though thanks for showing how little faith you have in the people on this forum.
     
  19. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    You've seen all the news coverage over either the abduction and/or murder of a little white girl, and the attention it receives in the media?.. you have.
    When was the last time you witnessed CNN falling over themselves reporting on a little black girl whose gone missing? Would you assume that little black girls never go missing or are murdered? Why don't we hear about them?

    It's just cold facts, we place a premium on white children that we don't on black children. If we did, we would not accept the current state of affairs.
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Missed this part - was Amelia fighting David to protect the baby, or after the baby is dead?

    I don't think it's unrealistic for Amelia to want to protect the baby - it's a baby, even if it's the baby of her oppressors. Basic human nature to want to protect babies--the horrible treatment from the slaveholders may have burned that nature out of David, but not of her. And if she was a house slave she may have had contact with the baby prior to the rebellion and bonded with it. That would make the protection aspect make sense.

    If she gets angry after the baby is killed, it still makes sense to me. If we do things like this we're no better than they are, or They tried to treat us like animals and we fought back, but then you went ahead and acted like an animal anyway or They killed my baby, and it's the worst thing ever. Now you've killed another baby? What for? Why? When does it end? etc.
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  21. WNP

    WNP Member

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    I can see that causing the kind of rage that would lead to someone doing something so horrible, but I wouldn't be sympathetic with him after it. He'd be just as bad as the masters in my opinion. I'd be able to sympathise if he killed everyone responsible, and would probably support him (kind of like in the film 'Law Abiding Citizen'), but going after those that had done nothing to him would be crossing a line from good guy out for revenge, to bad guy, in my eyes.
     
  22. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    You're American?

    Many of us aren't.

    And none of us, to my knowledge, work for CNN. I'm not going to take responsibility for the broadcasting decisions of a station I don't watch in a country I refuse to visit. If you don't care about black babies, you can own that, but don't project it onto others.
     
    Sifunkle likes this.
  23. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Wasn't aware that it's only an "American" problem.
    It's good to know there's no racism in Europe.
     
  24. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't live in Europe, and I'm sure there's racism there, just as there's racism practically everywhere. But it's a hell of a jump from "racism exists" to "people on this thread are racists because you only care when white babies are killed".
     
  25. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Well I don't know about that, seems a might suspicious folks are so uptight about a fictional black character murdering a fictional white baby.
     

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