[LMB] What makes a character irredeemable?

Tony Zbaraschuk tonyz at eskimo.com
Fri Jul 26 19:42:09 BST 2019

On Fri, July 26, 2019 1:07 pm, Matthew George wrote:
> Thinking about our recent quote-exchange about good and evil, I found my
> thoughts returning to The Curse of Chalion.  We're told Dondo dy Jironal
> ends up in the Bastard's Hell, while Martou is taken up by the Father.
> And the Gods are the closest thing we're likely to get to an objective
> and absolute judgment in that universe.  (Ultimately everything is derived
> from Lois Bujold's opinions of course, but that's not my intended point.)
> Clearly we are meant to view Dondo as evil, and irredeemably so.  But not
>  Martou, despite his making a bunch of very dodgy decisions and impaling
> the protagonist on a sword while seeking to slay his lawful liege.  This
> is pretty obviously the intention of the author, so a conscious strategy
> to make Dondo be rejected by the readers and considered not worth
> salvaging.
> What is it, precisely, that takes Dondo out of our sympathies?  To use a
> Troperism, he crosses the Moral Event Horizon.  But why and how?

Probably the two best explanatory scenes are Dondo's courtship picnic
with Iselle, and Dondo's attempt to bribe Caz, both of which show a
level of self-absorption that goes far into narcissim.  It seems to
me that he honestly doesn't have any concept that other people _could_
have other interests than "what does Dondo want?"

As Caz observed when temporarily on the inside, "Dondo was a clot of
self-will.  Dondo did not desire the gods."  It's not so much any one
deed, or many deeds, of Dondo; it's the pattern we see where Dondo
considers only himself and the value to himself.  Self-centeredness
is the root of all evil.  (Consider a comparison with Joen, at the
climax of PoS, where the B*stard says, "She is all _will-not_, so
she goes with her demon to the place of _be-not.")

Martou dy Jironal is not good, but we see that he does care about
others to some extent; he obviously has a strong desire for self-
advancement and for benefitting his family, but he seems to want to
do a good job running Chalion, and he's not so ultimately self-
centered that he'd be an eternal note of disharmony in the symphony
of the Father's orchestra.

We should probably keep in mind that the gods, as we are repeatedly
told, do not measure things the way humans do; They likely see value
in various characteristics we experience as unpleasant.  And they
take up most souls; we are repeatedly told, and shown, that sundering
is a rare fate, and lamented by the gods.

One might also consider C.S. Lewis' _The Great Divorce_.

Tony Z

Et vocavit Deus, "Fiat lux!"

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