In a previous post I noted that Adam shares the totalitarian mindset of prohibition, he acts in self-righteous manner towards Christine. In another I laid out a new inciting event that forces him into direct conflict with Reiner, he refuses to kill Christine at his initiation ceremony.
This event doesn’t suddenly change him, he’s still the prohibitionist policeman, it simply forces him to take the first step towards something else. The stepping stones of his eventual transformation are the subsequent conflicts of the story.
Adam and Reiner go at it as each tries to win their goal, the kind of world will they live in. Will it be a world of security or one of freedom? Their punch counter-punch confrontation is essentially a repetition of the same position played out with increasing intensity.
Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t explain how Adam learns the right way to live in the world. It doesn’t explain how a foreclosed identity such as his, formed around the prohibitionist cause, is transformed into an identity personal to him, an identity willing to choose freedom.
His insight comes, I think, from the conflicts he has with other characters. Each conflict forces him to deal with things in a different way. If Reiner is the motor of Adam’s change, the other characters steer him, each dealing with the problem of the story in a different way.
Michiko, the disgraced doctor, is compassionate towards Christine. Sexton, the radical drug dealer, refuses to submit to prohibition. Each encounter forces Adam to learn something new, understand himself and the world differently.
So when he battles prohibition, he knows how he wants to live in the world, and what he must do. He knows how to show Christine true compassion, even if that compassion means helping her to kill herself. He knows how to deal with Reiner, even if that means throwing him to the insects. He knows how to deal with prohibition, even if that means picking up a gun and fighting.
One final thought.
Something I think I learned while writing this. We don’t change ourselves, other people change us.