Needlestorm talks about how we percieve characters in the series.
What I’d like to talk about today is the way we perceive characters in Warrior cats based on the lens we view them through. As a long time fan of the series, I noticed a change over time in my views of characters based on the way they were presented by themselves and by others. The best example I can think of is Brambleclaw, but I’m sure there are others. For now, let’s focus on the perception of Brambleclaw.
Brambleclaw (now Bramblestar), as most of you know, is the current ThunderClan leader. He is Squirrelflight’s mate, and they have been together since The New Prophecy. As a new reader looking at The New Prophecy, I took what knowledge I had about Bramblepaw in the first arc of the series and saw him as he saw himself; a heroic character who was constantly dealing with and being frustrated by the antics of Squirrelpaw, and a character who I liked quite a lot. This is in part due to many factors. The previous protagonist was the same kind of noble and heroic character, so many readers, like myself, believed these things about Brambleclaw. Reading it at a young age, I felt the frustration that he felt when Squirrelpaw was causing trouble, felt tension about whether or not he’d end up with her. I can’t accurately speak for others, but if other people had a similar experience that I did, they found themselves sympathizing with and understanding Brambleclaw. He was, without a shadow of a doubt, a heroic and good cat. But is that what is true, or just what we saw? Let’s look deeper.
I recently reread my favorite book in the series, Squirrelflight’s Hope, and it was a dramatic shift from what came before it. Squirrelflight, the cat once shown as an irritation and a liar in different arcs, is now a sympathetic character who we feel bad for. And Bramblestar is portrayed as quite callous, cold, and even unloving in this book. Was this really the same Bramblestar from The New Prophecy? Squirrelflight’s view of the story lets us see a lot more of the real Bramblestar than what we could see in Bramblestar’s Storm. She is levelheaded and relatively unbiased when it comes to her views. She sees the solution to the problem they have, and no one else, not even her Bramblestar, listens. It’s been a while since I read The New Prophecy, but as I reread Squirrelflight’s Hope, thought back to that arc, and watched a video on the subject of Bramblestar and Squirrelflight that can be found here (thank you Moonkitti), I realized that this is always how Bramblestar has been, we just never saw an unbiased view of him since he was the protagonist. Our lens of him was the only thing that changed. What seemed like irrational behavior of Squirrelflight suddenly seemed just fine because we knew the motives that drove her. Here are a few more cases of this happening.
Tigerstar 2’s behavior when comparing his super edition to The Broken Code.
Breezepelt’s behavior between Omen of the Stars and Crowfeather’s Trial (although this one might just be a character change, it is pretty drastic).
Jayfeather’s motivations for his somewhat grumpy behavior that become lost when he is viewed through other characters.
The different ways we see Violetshine through Twigbranch and Violetshine’s perspectives.
There are probably even more. What I feel is interesting is how drastically different a character can feel sometimes, sometimes because of things we can’t see. How different would A Vision of Shadows be in Darktail’s perspective? How would The New Prophecy be from Ashfur’s point of view? It just goes to show that a cat isn’t so easily defined by a single point of focus, but also by the cats around. Tell me if you can think of any more cats who experience this kind of shift in perspective.