Viperfrost argues that Hawkfrost was justified.
It’s Viper again! We’re gonna pretend there wasn’t a two-year gap between my last article and this one. 😛 Let’s get started!
I’ll be honest. I’ve thought for a long time that Hawkfrost was a very overrated villain. He was kind of just “evil Brambleclaw” and “mini-Tigerstar”. He was just an overambitious cat who wanted attention from his father. He was that way when he was alive and that way when he was dead. He didn’t even develop that much when he was training Ivypool in the Dark Forest.
But recently I’ve been reading Mothwing’s Secret and it’s given me a lot to think about, so let’s get right into it. A quick note that there will be spoilers all the way through the Broken Code arc (Mothwing’s Secret and vaguely A Shadow In Riverclan too), so if you want to avoid those, now would be the time to leave.
It’s made very clear early on in the novella that Hawkfrost is ambitious. That’s no surprise. What surprised me, however, was his fear. Hawkfrost is constantly afraid of being thrown out of Riverclan. He’s afraid his bloodline will limit his potential for leadership. He views every little slipup he and Mothwing make as a step closer to being deemed worthless in the eyes of the Clan. And he’s correct in all of this.
Hawkfrost is shown to be deeply concerned that Mistyfoot and Leopardstar would think less of them for their blood, and that it would close all doors to him becoming leader of the Clan. In essence, he would be locked into the role of someone to be mistrusted. This concern becomes even more alarming once you consider that Mistyfoot and Leopardstar were their mentors.
Hawkfrost is concerned that his own mentor would treat him harshly for something out of his control, which makes you wonder about the specifics of his apprenticeship in general. As we later see, his distrust of Mistyfoot is well-earned.
He seems to deal with extreme abandonment issues stemming from the loss of almost every important cat in his life. His brother Tadpole, known to be the leader of the litter, drowns in a flooding room. This has a lasting impact on Hawkfrost, who tries and fails to cope with it in a healthy way. It later leads into his complete trust in Brambleclaw, his newly found older brother, who he treats as the absolute best friend he’s always wanted.
His mother Sasha abandons him and Mothwing in RiverClan as kits. In A Shadow in RiverClan, even cat he seems to consider a friend and mentor, Feathertail, abandons him after finding out his parentage and later dies in the mountains.
In almost every way, he has no control over the circumstances of his life. There is no stability for Hawkfrost, and there never has been. He’s been shipped around from location to location, abandoned by one cat after another. This lack of control and security can be assumed to be his driving force for attaining leadership, which would finally grant him a safe place in life.
When Mothwing is made a warrior and decides she’d rather be a medicine cat, Hawkfrost reacts in a way that illustrates their predicament. He doesn’t say that she’d be a bad medicine cat. He doesn’t say that her lack of belief in StarClan will mean anything. He says that if she doesn’t succeed in this, they will be “ruined.”
It’s acknowledged in the book (Mothwing’s Secret) that the cats around her are doubtful, as is Mudfur. Mudfur is Leopardstar’s father as well as her medicine cat, and it’s clear that having the approval of one is important for the other.
Hawkfrost and Mothwing are finally introduced at a Gathering after she becomes an unofficial medicine cat apprentice, suggesting that they had been held back during their entire apprenticeships.
They are greeted, as one might expect at this point, by snarls. Cats yell at them and glare at them, and Mothwing is mocked for being a rogue-turned-medicine cat. Mudfur states that he’s waiting on a sign from StarClan about her.
Without a sign from StarClan granting their approval, Mudfur won’t make her his apprentice. To speed the process along, Hawkfrost fakes a sign from StarClan. Despite kits becoming medicine cat apprentices all the time without any divine intervention, Mothwing needed some kind of proof. All is well in the Clan, and they cheerfully accept their new medicine cat apprentice on the condition that she has been approved by StarClan.
One of Hawkfrost’s thoughts on the matter, once he reveals the truth to Mothwing, is “You were meant to be a medicine cat. But just because we weren’t Clanborn, Mudfur insisted on waiting for some kind of sign. You already proved yourself, so why should we wait for something that might never happen?”
An interesting aspect to Hawkfrost is his initial atheism. Prior to being approached by Tigerstar and training in the Dark Forest, he doesn’t seem to actually believe in StarClan. He says that “I don’t know if StarClan is real, but if I have to pretend to believe in them to be a part of RiverClan, I will.” This is another facet to his lack of feeling like he belongs in the Clan.
When their parentage is revealed in front of all the Clans at the start of their journey, it turns out that he was right. A lot of cats turn against them, even from their own Clan. Mothwing notes that a queen who’s kit she’d treated just recently was one of the cats protesting against their staying. It takes a speech from Firestar to calm everyone down, but it’s clear that he isn’t even talking about them. He says that Tigerstar’s kits had earned their place in the forest many times over, yet he’s only looking at Brambleclaw.
If Brambleclaw hadn’t earned his trust, would he have even stood up for them? Would the leadership of Riverclan allow their clan to throw Hawkfrost and Mothwing out after they’d served their Clan so well?
Mothwing was already their medicine cat, and Hawkfrost was apparently one of their strongest warriors, yet the Clan was willing to throw them out at the drop of a hat. Just because their father was Tigerstar, someone Leopardstar herself had allied with. Many cats in RiverClan at that time played a part in TigerClan, and in the horrible deeds carried out, yet none of them would stick up for cats who hadn’t even been born then.
This problem persists long after Hawkfrost is killed. In Mistystar’s Omen, Mistyfoot becomes the leader of RiverClan. She receives her nine lives and, as a result, finds out that Mothwing doesn’t believe in StarClan. She is outraged and makes Mothwing agree to step down from being a medicine cat. She goes on about how she’s been betrayed by Mothwing, how this is a secret that’s been kept from her, and essentially monologues endlessly about it.
Mothwing doesn’t resist this change, but goes on helping her clan. At the end of the novella, Mothwing proves herself as a medicine cat for the hundredth time and is reinstated. You would think this is the end of Mothwing having to prove herself again and again.
You’d be wrong. In the Broken Code arc, Mistystar is up in arms about codebreakers after the impostser makes a fuss about StarClan’s will. Mistystar turns against Mothwing again, this time for being the product of a code-breaking relationship. That’s right. Mistystar, the daughter of a code breaking relationship, exiled Mothwing, the daughter of a code breaking relationship. She was lucky that ShadowClan took her in. But really, was it a surprise?
Mothwing and Hawkfrost never had a secure place in RiverClan. From the moment they joined, they were under intense scrutiny for everything from their behavior to their beliefs, and this is just another time all of Mothwing’s experience and reputation has been cast aside because of her past. At least this time around she learned something and refused to come back to Riverclan after Harelight and Icewing were exiled.
In the end, Hawkfrost was right to think they’d have to do everything in their power to stay in RiverClan. Even after Mothwing has spent her entire life serving RiverClan, the Clan had no problem throwing her out. They doubt her at every turn, and there’s no end to her abilities being questioned. If Hawkfrost hadn’t faked the sign from StarClan, she might not have even gotten the position.
In the eyes of RiverClan, Mothwing will never be good enough, because she isn’t Clan-born.
And in Hawkfrost’s eyes, the Dark Forest cats respected him for who he was, instead of making him feel as though his whole life was an audition for the part of a worthy warrior.
I hope you enjoyed the article, and I plan to make more soon enough! C: