Christine’s desire

I ended my last post with a question; what does Christine’s desire line look like?

It would be easy to say Christine’s desire is to escape prohibition but I don’t think that adequately describes what she wants. To truly understand her desire we first have to understand her need. What must Christine fullfil within herself to have a better life?

Need is about overcoming her moral and psychological weaknesses. The knee-jerk reaction to this question identifies her drug use as her weakness, but as I tried to explain in my previous post, Christine’s drug use is not a negative. That understanding just doesn’t fit with the moral vision or theme I have for the story.

As I understand it Christine’s weakness is her rebelliousness, that impulse she has to resist authority, control, or convention. In the chapter “Character Web by Archetype” of “The Anatomy of Story” John Truby notes that the rebel’s strength is the “courage to stand out from the crowd and act against a system that is enslaving people”. The weakness of this archetype is that they “often cannot provide a better alternative, so end up destroying the society”.

I think of the link between the two sides of her weakness like this. If Adam’s self-righteousness is a product of a positive pushed until it becomes a negative, his responsibility, taken to the extreme, is oppressive.

Christine’s weakness is a product of her bravery pushed until it becomes destructive. At the beginning of the story her rebelliousness is the wellspring of the conflict with Adam. Her defiance exasperates Adam. He reacts with self-righteous indignation and arrests her, which reenforces her will to resist. She has a destructiveness about her at the beginning of the story.

The question then becomes, what is she at the end? In purely technical terms she needs to achieve the polar opposite. Put simply if her weakness is destructive she needs to create something.

That insight brings me to the conclusion that Christine’s need is to change the society she lives in. Ironically, a need she is only able to fulfil through Adam. When, at the end of the story, Adam chooses freedom over security, he is fulfilling Christine’s creative need to free society. He is doing it because of what he’s learned through Christine.

A conclusion I wasn’t really aware of until now. Christine’s desire line is not to escape prohibition, it’s to change Adam. This insight changes the way I look at Adam and how he relates to Christine.

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