I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Christine Leigh. Who she is? What she wants? Why she takes drugs?
Christine’s relationship with Adam is the cornerstone of Carrion.
She is the reason he goes up against Reiner. Without her Adam would remain inactive, Reiner’s actions would go unchallenged, and our view of prohibition would remain inviolate.
The story only gets under way when Adam’s desire to save Christine kicks in. But there is a problem with characterising Christine as something that needs to be saved. Certainly it allows Adam to justify arresting her at the beginning of the story, but it has the potential to make her incredibly passive.
There is another thing. “Characterising Christine as something that needs to be saved” underestimates, or more accurately, misrepresents her drug use. Overall it presupposes she is victimised by drugs. Certainly she is persecuted by prohibition, but when I think of her drug use I don’t see her as a victim.
The understanding of drug user as victim relies heavily on the popular perception of those who take drugs as damaged individual running away from something. While there are undoubtably a percentage of individuals who fit this profile. I know the vast majority of people who use drugs take them for entirely different reason. If the truth were told there are probably as many reasons for using drugs as there are people who take them.
There’s also another misconception at play, one that presumes everyone who takes drugs is an addict. I view this as prohibitionist propaganda. The truth is less hysterical. Just as not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, not everyone who takes drugs is an addict.
Which brings me back to the question, why does Christine take drugs? The short answer is she’s looking for something. If I had to pin it down I’d say she is actually seeking a state of grace. I don’t think of Christine as a religious person. I think what she seeks is less devine grace and more secular enlightenment. In an earlier post I outlined something of Christine’s character.
Born in 1995. She was two when her brother joined the army. In the years that followed she saw him occasionally. His absence from the family home meant she actually grew up an only child. The sole beneficiary of her parents emotional, physical and financials resources, the constant attention lead to a strong willed girl sensitive to disapproval. Denied competition from a sibling she exhibits a certain possessiveness with her time, space and belongings. Perfectly happy to spend time alone and fiercely loyal, she prefers the company of a few close friends to the superficial connections exhibited by her extrovert peers. (2)
I view Christine’s drug use as her way of connecting to others. It’s not just that she has a small group of friends who are united by a common activity, or the feelings of empathy that comes with the use of a drug like ecstasy. I think she uses drugs because she has a deep-rooted need to short circuit the barriers between people.
At the core of that need are the barriers she feels between herself and Adam. The flip-side of this need to connect is her great weakness, her rebelliousness, that impulse to resist authority, control or convention. All of which raises a question, what does her desire line look like?