In his favor I should note Harry has more than once gone out of his way to help family, and rescue both lovers and those weaker than himself. He’s done this even when he knows it may mean his death — even when it caused a war. I find that heroic. As Harry noted himself, if we’re willing to go to war for the potential murder of many, why not for the potential murder of one? Where do we draw the line in human lives and say we do not yet care about an attacker, because we ourselves have not been personally attacked, and not enough innocent bystanders have been murdered yet? Like Cassandra and Mercy, Harry is willing to put his life on the line for his beliefs; to me that’s definitely heroism.
And yet, despite that courage, there’s something Harry (or perhaps his author) still doesn’t quite get which I think is very important for a good heroine:
I’m not entirely happy with the title of this element of my proposed Heroine’s Journey; I considered “Making (and keeping) Allies” and “Building Community” and “Creating Allies from Enemies” and a few more in that vein, but none of them quite captured the totality of the “feel” I was struggling for. I finally settled on “crafting” as the verb — since it’s still almost more of an art than anything else (both within the stories, and in my life experience) — and “community” as the noun, since this includes friends and allies, family, and those still in the making for either category. To be fair to my lack of communication skills here, this is still an issue I’m working out in my head, as well. I’ll try to explain what I mean a bit better.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s in the US, a great many psychological experiments were done which are still considered “seminal” in the field, and which were used to determine both how humans reacted, and what was “standard” human behavior. What didn’t occur to the white male scientists of the time, and what many people still don’t realize, is that the experiments done to determine human behavior… were done on only one tiny, statistically insignificant class of humankind: young white male college students in the US. It was done for a good reason at the time, of course: the scientists found in the male college students a large and willing pool of subjects on which to experiment for free.
The reason this is important here (aside from the sheer hilarity of the assumption that a small handful of young white US boys are a good statistical sample for all humanity) is that due to these experiments there’s a now-well-known phrase which describes the supposed response of all humans when put under extreme stress: the behavior commonly known as “fight or flight.” What is interesting is that now, some 50 or so years after these experiments were performed, people are starting to question these formerly sacrosanct assumptions on how all humans supposedly behave — and even more interestingly, there’s some research that’s starting to pop up which provocatively suggests that at least women do not automatically react that way when under enormous stresses.
There’s a book I’ve got that explores this fascinating theory, titled The Tending Instinct: How Nurturing is Essential to Who We Are and How We Live by Shelley E. Taylor. I’ve not yet had a chance to read it — homework and the Bestiary come first — but I’m going to be quite interested to see what Professor Taylor has to say on her work on this subject. I’m expecting to also discover her work is considered “ridiculous,” “poorly researched,” “bad science,” or “politically correct claptrap” by the old school scientific establishment — but quite frankly, having the old school all in a huff, with such thinly veiled excuses for their tizzy, is starting to become a flag for me that the attacked person is onto something really interesting that will become accepted by the scientific community in about another 25 years. I just wish it weren’t so often gender related attacks right now, you know? ;-j
Anyway. For now, and from the inner flap of the book’s dustjacket:
[W]e are biologically programmed to care for one another. Taylor calls this response the tending instinct. In times of trouble, instead of running or fighting, people — especially women — are driven to turn to the social group where they both give and receive comfort and support. … She shows that although fight or flight behavior may seem to assure the survival of the fittest, an individual isn’t likely to survive for long if he or she tries to go it alone. Taylor’s alternative model — “tend and befriend” — relies on our essential social nature and is vital to our survival as a species.