Hey everyone and welcome back to another Let’s Talk Bookish! As always, Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, that is hosted by me and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.
Today’s topic is: Redemption Arcs
This was Dani’s topic, and I’m super excited since this is one of my favorite plotlines. We’re also not going to be talking about just books today my friends. Yup, you read that right. There’s going to be mentions of a TV show as well, because the redemption arc in it is the absolute best as far as I’m concerned.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
To answer the all important question: Do I like redemption arcs?
I don’t like them.
I absolutely LOVE them.
Honestly, I feel like redemption arcs are the best thing that can happen to any character in any book, movie, or show so long as it is done right.
If a redemption arc is done badly, it’s a flop. A really bad flop. The kind of flop that will leave me either steaming mad, or just plain baffled at how messed up it is. I don’t think there can be an in between with a redemption arc. It’s either good, or it’s bad.
My all time favorite redemption arc has to be Zuko’s from Avatar: The Last Airbender. I don’t want to spoil it much if you haven’t watched it (which you should) but Zuko changes a lot, and it’s amazing. It’s really amazing. There’s just no words to describe how I feel about his journey throughout those three too short but also painfully long seasons (if you didn’t take me seriously the first time, I repeat, go watch it).
On the other hand, a character arc that was done badly was Cecily’s from The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats. She supposedly changes and stops becoming an annoying brat who delights in treating people like dirt, but I didn’t care. She was just so rude and annoying, and that was pushed way too much until I couldn’t empathize with her at the end when she supposedly changed.
A character who I’m hoping will have a delightful redemption arc is Ericen from The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson. He has so much potential, and his story is kind of similar to Zuko’s so I’m really really really hoping that this potential isn’t ruined and that he has a magnificent arc like Zuko did.
I can’t think of any other bookish arcs that I’ve read, which is kind of sad, so if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
One of the questions that Dani asked that I found really interesting was: Can any character be redeemed or are there some characters that are too far gone?
I think that it depends on how the character is set up. If the character is just mean for apparently no reason, or for a bad reason, or the reason why they are like that is delayed for too long, then yes, the author can try to do a redemption, but I don’t think it would work. At least, I don’t think it would work for me.
That was my issue with Cecily that I mentioned above. She was just rude. Sure, she’s been told that the Welsh are awful people and everything, but seriously, she had absolutely no respect or shred of…I don’t know, kindness or anything. Even one English woman who was doing her a favor she thought of in a very rude manner (though that lady wasn’t that nice either). She also manipulated her father to get what she wanted, and no amount of explaining that that’s how she had been raised could make me forgive her for that. She just looked down on everyone and acted as if she was some saintly person for not being worse. Towards the end, she does have an arc, but I couldn’t care less. It really failed for me because it was not set up well at all.
I also think that certain characters shouldn’t necessarily be redeemed. It’s great if the bad guy becomes the good guy, but sometimes, they just have to be the bad guy too. Making them a good guy would be kind of implausible.
But with characters like Zuko and Ericen, there is something that’s motivating them to act in the way that they’re acting. There’s something that makes you realize that they aren’t inherently a bad person, but a person who’s acting out of a bad situation. And that is a great example of the kind of “bad” character that can be redeemed.
Another important thing is that it can’t happen overnight. If they suddenly wake up and spend 5 minutes contemplating their life and decide to turn good, I’m going to throw the book down/stop watching and go do something better with my time. actually, I’ll probably continue but grumble and roll my eyes a lot lol. Things don’t work like that IRL, and they shouldn’t in books/shows either. It took Zuko THREE seasons to finally complete his arc, and that made it all the better, because you saw him go through all the mistakes and slowly change. You saw how all the little things built up to turn him around, and it makes for a more realistic and wholesome redemption.
So in short, no, I don’t think that every character can be redeemed, but it is possible, so long as it’s done in an accurate and realistic way.
This Week’s Participants:
Obviously, all that is my opinion, so what do you think about redemption arcs? Can everyone be redeemed? Have you watched ATLA? What’s your favorite book/series with a great redemption arc? Wasn’t Zuko’s redemption just perfect? Have you read The Storm Crow? Share your thoughts in the comments below!