Jetclaw presents an analytical view of Ashfur’s actions.
I would like to start this article with the statement that up until recently I didn’t have much of an opinion on Ashfur. When I first read through Power of Three and all the terrible things he did, in a way it got brushed aside by the usual violence of warriors. The bitterness of one tom didn’t perk my interest when I had 3 super powered cats (this was back when I thought/hoped Hollyleaf was one of the three) and the usual clan drama going on. But looking back, I find that there’s a lot I really can’t agree with when it comes to him.
I made a point of searching through articles about Ashfur because I was curious to see what has been said about him before and most that defend him focus strongly on his past. ‘His past was bad, he had a rough time, and Squirrelflight dumped him! He’s justified in his actions, plus no one died! ‘
I’ve only seen one article that aligned well with my own views and that was an article Jayfrost wrote back in 2014, she touched on how a lot of people’s opinion on what went down between Ashfur and Squirrelflight reflected a lot more on how they felt about Squirrelflight rather on Ashfur’s actions and reactions. Which is why this is very troublesome.
While I know Warriors is geared towards books, it is a book series for kids and as such helps kids learn more about the world around them through fiction. So, by normalizing some things kids thus see these things as perfectly normal and okay.
In this case, Ashfur is obsessive. Too often in popular culture, we see male characters who are obsessed with a female character and pursue and pursue and pursue and we’re told to interpret them as being a ‘go-getter’ and ‘tenacious and determined’ and the female character as ‘playing hard to get’. That’s not okay. Women/female characters are not prizes meant to be won after a male character has pursued them on and on until eventually, they wear them down and it’s just easier to give in then deal with the stress of trying to avoid them or avoid backlash they might receive if they keep turning so and so down.
Now you’re probably wondering how this relates to Ashfur. Let’s go over Ashfur and Squirrelflight’s ‘relationship’ briefly. Squirrelflight needed a friend while she and Brambleclaw were having issues, and there is no contextual evidence to state that Squirrelflight ever made a move to have her and Ashfur be more than friends. But, even if she considered it or they were in a romantic relationship, she has a right to leave him if she doesn’t love him. Which she didn’t as she loved Brambleclaw, and she made that pretty clear when she chose Brambleclaw to be her mate.
So that ends Squirrelflight’s involvement, everything afterward is all on Ashfur. Now Ashfur rather than accepting that Squirrelflight didn’t love him, he refused to accept it. He had fallen in love and he refused to give up on it. So what does he do? He works with Hawkfrost to trap Firestar and set Brambleclaw up to kill him. If the plan had gone through Firestar would be dead and Brambleclaw could have the blame pinned on him. I haven’t read the book in a while I admit but I recall Ashfur making a point that Squirrelflight heard about this going down. Then he goes on to try to kill Leafpool’s kits by refusing to let them cross to safety, only letting them cross when he learns of a secret he could expose to hurt Squirrelflight even more.
Some claim that this is vengeance, I call this obsession. Also, do you notice that rather than attack Squirrelflight directly he’s making an effort to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to damage her support network or isolate her? Think about it, had the plan with Hawkfrost succeeded and Firestar had been killed, not only would Squirrelflight’s father be dead, but Brambleclaw would be a prime suspect. Then Squirrelflight would be emotionally vulnerable, and maybe just maybe Ashfur could swindle his way into her heart again. But that’s my headcanon on what Ashfur expected to get out of that plan, well either that or just drawing pleasure from tearing out chunks of Squirrelflight’s heart by removing those she loved. But both are terrible so take your pick of which you want to believe.
However, when he keeps Hollyleaf, Jayfeather, and Lionblaze from getting out of the fire, by that point it’s more likely he’s just out to cause her the same pain she caused him. Though he lets Leafpool’s kits get to safety when he finds out information that could seriously alienate Squirrelflight from her mate and the clan.
I really dislike that all of Ashfur’s crimes are brushed aside with statements like ‘he loved too much’. There was nothing ‘loving’ about Ashfur’s actions after Squirrelflight chose Brambleclaw, it was obsession. Obsession that pushed him to commit the equivalent of treason against ThunderClan, attempted murder of 4 cats, but it’s all okay because he had his heart broken and he loved too much!
This is not okay. This behavior should not be normalized for as I mentioned above, obsession for males is seen as normal, they’re just ‘trying to get the girl’. Ashfur is the victim of nothing but his own obsession, Squirrelflight is the victim of being the object of Ashfur’s obsession along with those whom Ashfur attacked to get at Squirrelflight. I know the examples of obsession I mentioned focused more on those who pursued someone endlessly, but there are other cases of obsession (Hollyleaf had an obsession with trying to follow the warrior code to the letter to the point that when she found out her own blood went against it, it drove her off the reservation), But unlike Hollyleaf’s obsession which ended up bringing about her ‘undoing’ (she did change herself after surviving in the tunnels and let go of her obsession and worked to redeem herself), Ashfur’s obsession with Squirrelflight gets pushed under the rug by calling it ‘loving too much’.
It frustrates me to no end that Ashfur is helping perpetuate that obsessing and chasing someone romantically endlessly is okay. It’s not. A character breaking up with another character does not make it okay for the other character to then go and hurt the one who broke up with them, a ‘broken heart’ doesn’t give you a free pass for murder. Rejection happens, that’s life, so I’m going to close this with be like Bumblestripe and accept rejection with grace, and don’t EVER be like Ashfur.