Viperfrost dives into the issues that surround mates and families in the series.
(POSSIBLE SPOILERS ACROSS ALL ARCS)
Viperfrost again, here to talk (write?) about the possible issues that arise with mates and families in Warriors, and how they are dealt with by the franchise. I know I haven’t written in around a month (sorry, schoolwork chaos!) so I made a larger article today to make up for that. 😊
Incest – One of the most well-known of issues; many fans can get grossed out over exactly how related couples can be in the canon. I don’t really have too much of an issue with it, since cats don’t care much about their distant familial bonds, except in cases of obvious incest (Graystripe’s parents, anyone?).
Warriors has mixed feelings about it; while many couples in the series are related in some way, shared blood is still used as reasoning for why a ship is not canonized (Foxleap and Rosepetal). Despite this, relations between uncles/nieces (Dustpelt and Ferncloud), cousins/cousins(Snowbush and Lilyheart), second cousins/second cousins(Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw), etc, are still approved, though WillowpeltxPatchpelt is the only canon relationship of their particular sort.
Age Difference – Some cats are like Snowfur and Thistleclaw, apprentice-ship sweethearts who start a family straight out of warriorhood. Other cats have to wait longer for their special someone. Fans may get a little creeped out over very large age differences, like how Thornclaw is five years older than Blossomfall.
While it does seem a bit creepy because the series anthropomorphizes cats and we are therefore seeing them through a “human lens” (Thornclaw’s old enough to be her grandfather!), it’s important to keep in mind that cat years don’t exactly work the same as human years.
After a cat is one year old, it is an adult. Even a five year old cat is still just an adult, and is therefore okay to have a relationship with another adult cat. I would, however, be creeped out by a senior/elder cat trying to start a relationship with a young adult cat.
Warriors has a few oddly large age differences (Pinestar and Leopardfoot, where Pinestar was the leader when Leopardkit was born, and Willowpelt and Tawnyspots, where Tawnyspots was a sickly elder when Willowpaw was an apprentice), but mostly sticks to normal (for cats) age gaps, and portrays the relationships well (I know Thornclaw’s only been in the background since book one and we haven’t heard much of his inner thoughts, but seeing him nervous over his first litter with Blossomfall was just adorable).
Multiple Mates (Dead Mate) – Two cats fell in love. They had a wonderful time…for a little while. Now one’s passed away, in a heart-breaking scene that probably numbers among those that made me cry. How will the survivor ever find love again? If they do, are they betraying their old mate? Which one do they love more?
Wait, wait, did you see that? They found someone! And they’re happy! And the fandom’s at war.
It is not an uncommon occurrence in Warriors, some popular examples being GrayxSilver/GrayxMillie and CrowxFeather/CrowxLeaf. Warriors portrays this as normal (which it is; did you really want that character to morosely walk in sadness forever?), and provides examples of varying success to present a rounded experience (GrayxMillie worked out; CrowxLeaf didn’t).
A major unresolved issue that pertains to this is Starclan. In the afterlife, will that character pick to stay mates with their new love, or was the first love the deepest? Sometimes drastic measures are taken to “solve” that, such as when Spottedleaf was murdered a second time just so Firestar wouldn’t pick her over Sandstorm. However, I’m sure they’ll have to come up with more solutions, since you can’t really kill off ALL the old mates and the Warriors universe is pretty devoted to monogamy.
(Side-note: If Firestar would pick Spottedleaf over Sandstorm in Starclan, I’m disappointed in him. Don’t get me wrong; I liked Spottedleaf well enough, and though she originally seemed rather Mary-Stuish to me, Spottedleaf’s Heart gave her a deeper character in my opinion. But in terms of comparing relationships, FirexSand was a very developed relationship that should last through the afterlife, while Firepaw just randomly had a high-school crush on a “pretty” medicine cat who was then killed and proceeded to stalk his dreams. She always had to be the one to deliver the various prophecies and messages, and Firestar described her “sweet scent” more times than I can count. Frankly, my sympathy goes out to Sandstorm. Rant over, and I have no idea how it got this long XD)
Multiple Mates (Alive Ex-Mate) –
It’s just like the last section! Except, wait…the other cat isn’t dead. Yep, delving into the aftermath of kitty divorce. Researching this, I tried to find as many examples as possible to provide a rounded vision of how Warriors portrays this, but try as I might, I can’t find a single example of when this has worked out great. It’s either glossed over/never mentioned or acknowledged, or really terrible.
For example, Windflight splitting up with Thrushpelt’s mother and moving onto Thistleclaw’s is never mentioned. It makes sense, since it happened before Bluestar’s time and she wouldn’t know to ask about it, but other such cases are also never acknowledged.
That’s not bad, of course, but it strikes me as odd that in all the cases available, the result is either neutral or negative. There is no portrayal of a cat exploring the emotions that go along with kitty divorce and working through it, or being dumped and finding happiness afterward with another cat.
Neutral examples include Windflight, Willowpelt, Patchpelt, etc. Negative examples include Crow/Night, where Crowfeather was only trying to prove his loyalty and never loved her, Hal/Featherstorm, where Hal wouldn’t even acknowledge Raggedstar as his son and was murdered by him, and Storm/Moon, where Moonflower spent her life padding after Stormtail, only to have him ignore their kits and ditch her for Dappletail (culminating during the middle of the battle where she died).
I know that Warriors finds the value of “marriage” to be important. I do too. But I think that happiness for “divorced” cats should be portrayed at least once, especially with the sheer number of negative portrayals. MoonxSun should have been a canon thing, which I say even though I despise Moonflower with a passion.
Half-Siblings – In accordance with the Multiple Mates sections, there are usually half-siblings as a result. This happens a lot, and Warriors presents many different experiences.
They usually don’t interact much as siblings, though in some cases (Tallstar) an older half-sibling may hold resentment over 1) the younger litter receiving more attention from their shared parent, 2) the shared parent forgetting about their former mate, and/or 3) the younger litter having a better upbringing than they did (a more solid family).
If there are multiple offspring of one cat and they are half-siblings to each other, it’s a safe bet that one, specifically one, of them will be extreme. Either extremely annoying, extremely ambitious, or extremely evil. At least one other of their collection of siblings, half or not, will be the exact opposite.
Tigerstar fathered Brambleclaw, Hawkfrost, Mothwing, and Tawnypelt. Only Hawkfrost was very evil, while Mothwing was very peaceful.
Daisy mothered Hazeltail, Mousewhisker, Berrynose, Toadstep, and Rosepetal. Only Berrynose was super annoying, while Mousewhisker was rather timid like his namesake.
Windflight fathered Tawnyspots, Dappletail, Thrushpelt, Thistleclaw, Rosetail, and Sweetpaw. Only Thistleclaw was very ambitious, while Thrushpelt was very kind.
This rule follows for most half-siblings important to the plot; Firestar’s disposition is the opposite of Scourge’s, Graystripe’s the opposite of Darkstripe’s, and Lionblaze’s the opposite of Breezepelt’s.
Also, if you have a half-brother and he is evil, it’s a safe bet that you will end up in a battle with him where you may or may not kill him. If you are currently saying “Hey! I have a half-brother, and he isn’t evil. In fact, he’s probably nicer than I am!”…good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor, though they usually aren’t. 😛 Half-sisters are normal, though, with a range of personalities, and you will never end up killing them.
Favoritism – There once was a litter of kits. They were as thick as thieves. Now, for some reason or another, one is favored over the other(s). Resentment is rising.
Favoritism in Warriors is as complex as it is in real life. There is often a reason involved. In fact, I have not seen any case where the reason is not obvious to the reader. There is also reason presented for why the resenting party acts as they do. Warriors provides a well-rounded experience on this topic, complete with evidence in favor of everyone in the situation doing what they think is right, just as in real life.
Did Briarlight deserve care and attention during her difficult times? Yes. Did Blossomfall deserve to have her accomplishments or injuries brushed aside in favor of her sister? No. At least, not in my opinion. In Millie’s opinion, she loved all of her kits, and she was doing what needed to be done to help one of them, even if that involved neglecting the other two. The reader can see that, because (s)he has the full scoop on Millie’s character development. Blossomfall didn’t. All she knew was that her sister was in the medicine den, and now her mother didn’t care about her (from her POV). She began to resent her sister, and then herself for doing so. She ended up joining the Dark Forest.
A different case was laid out for Ivypool. Dovepaw was selected to go on the Beaver Quest, and she wasn’t. She couldn’t figure out why, though it was plain to see for the reader. They were the same age, had the same experience up till then. Afterward, everyone starts treating Dovepaw like Starclan’s gift to the Clans, while Ivypaw is just her sister. Her shadow. They don’t spend as much time together, since Dovepaw was always getting called off to talk to the senior warriors, and to the leader of the entire clan.
Ivypaw couldn’t figure out why; she just knew that suddenly Dovepaw was the “greatest thing since sliced bread”, and she was just…regular bread (perfect analogy since no one can figure out why sliced bread is so special either. You take the bread. You get a knife. You slice it.) Suddenly, there’s someone new. This cat takes an interest in what she’s doing, instead of what her sister is doing.
She feels good about herself for once, yet still feels a loyalty to her sister despite the attention disparity and tries to tell her about the cat, but is brushed off. I feel like this part is important. Blossomfall resented herself for resenting her sister. Ivypaw still loved Dovepaw, still tried to tell her about the dream.
This illustrates something that is very common in real-world favoritism; in a case where one sibling is favored over the other for a reason, or even no visible reason at all, the other sibling’s love for them usually doesn’t just vanish. But the sibling’s love for being around them often starts to fade. It’s a slow erosion, bit by bit, as “small” things (each and every occurrence of favoritism) start to add up. Blossomfall eventually decided that she was a “bad cat” for resenting her sister and deserved the Dark Forest; Ivypaw eventually decided that she didn’t need her sister anymore, since her sister clearly didn’t need her, and joined the cats who promised her the attention and respect she wanted, the kind that Dovepaw always got.
There’s also the other side of the coin, and that side is named Bumblestripe. Sometimes a person with a favored sibling is fine with it; they are developed enough to cope with the loss of potential affection that is given to the other one. Just as Bumblestripe moves on with his life without missing a step, so too do some in real life. There’s nothing wrong with either side of the coin, just a difference in reaction based upon how much affection one needs at that stage of their life.
All in all, I think that Warriors provides an accurate, heart-wrenching display of what sibling favoritism can be like.
That’s it for today’s article! Again, I’m sorry it’s been a while. Difficult classes got difficult. 😛 Be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments section!