[LMB] Ekaterin and Nikki
mitchmiller at entertainmenttax.com
Fri, 14 Nov 2003 14:48:27 -0800
When my father died, my mother didn't seem to do much outward grieving. She said to me, "He had been sick for over a year. I think I've been grieving all this time." I think Ekaterin has been grieving for the "loss" of Tien for a long time. She was already burying him --leaving -- on the day he died. Like anyone else in that situation, she has a lot of conflicting feelings. She's angry at him for being, once again, a fool. She's glad she can finally get Nikki his treatment. She's relieved that she doesn't have to take on the status of a divorcee, obviously rare and looked-askance at in Barrayaran society, and can be a widow, for which there is a position. She's already attracted to Miles. And a lot of other emotions. I don't have any problem with her character.
As far as Nikki is concerned, I've been to a number of funerals lately, and I've seen kids react in all different sorts of ways. Some want to go to the mall, others are wiped out with wailing. And they switch back and forth. Anybody who thinks he or she knows how a child "should" react to the death of his father is a lot smarter than I.
Nikki could even be thrilled his dad is dead at
first, he could be crushed, he could be....something. But he's not. And yes,
he would take after his mother but given his personality *before* Tien dies,
he's not nearly emotionally closed as Ekaterin--simply because Nikki's the
one person Ekaterin *hasn't distanced herself from.
You're forgetting that Nikki bonded with Miles over the ship models. Because his mom didn't react, and this funny looking stranger/cool new guy who happens to be friends with his really cool uncle didn't react (overtly) to Tien's death, Nikki took his cue on how to act from them. Children are the ultimate mimics. It's a survival
technique left over from way, way back. Kids also internalize examples and lessons and don't share their personal views easily. They don't want to be stupid or wrong because being either one is a deep, personal embarassment. In ACC, we see more of Nikki's real character because he's not a pawn in parental mind games. It also
helps that this really cool guy who shares his toys and likes his mom wants him to share his thoughts/feelings but Doesn't Laugh At Them. Miles even approves of Nikki and his conclusions, so all is better with the world.
I guess I can't get past the fact that as presented in Komarr, Nikki seems
totally unrealistic to me and Ekaterin a lousy mom. It's different in CC,
much better, and I'm glad I read that book first, as I said. I adore the
Vorkosigan-verse and I worship at the feet of Lois' incredible talent.
I've been introduced to a number of children of various different ages in various different social occasions. Nikki was spot on in all his reactions. Kids don't react like an adult would. Most 8-12 year old children in real life, are cautious around strange new people--especially the ones their parents/family introduce them
to. They don't let their personality show for fear this new authority figure will laugh at them or use their actions as a reason to reject them. This is with children who have a stable home life and haven't moved once in their entire life. Nikki was in an unstable home with one non-attendant parent, and moved around a lot.
Caution around / fear of strangers was probably the very first thing he learned--first from his peers and then from his parents.
Kids watch how you jump, and then they follow along, even if they don't understand why you're doing what you do.