Shrewclaw: An incomplete arc by mellowix

mellowix analyses Shrewclaw’s seeming lack of development – what do you think?

Shrewclaw is liked by many fans due to his change from a bully to a friend. Though, I’m here to argue Shrewclaw put no effort into self-improvement. Instead, the positive reception of Shrewclaw that Tallstar gains after the Sparrow Quest – Is due to Tallstar’s own independent development and his old bully has nothing to earn it himself.

There’s a strange disconnect between what the character dialogue claims about Shrewclaw and his actual actions. It claims it’s only “teasing” – But it’s so much worse than that. He assaults and threatens Tallstar. The heights of his cruelty being:

1) “Don’t you know any warrior moves? No wonder you couldn’t save your father!”

2)“You’re hare-brained! You’re an embarrassment to WindClan with your dumb accusations! Nobody likes you. You should be underground! We won’t miss you.”

3) (After Shrewclaw gets his warrior name A.K.A He’s adult and doesn’t have the excuse of being a kid anymore)

Shrewclaw: Too cold for you up here? You could go hide in a tunnel. I won’t tell.
Talltail: Sure you wouldn’t. Don’t you get bored of throwing the same old insults?
Shrewclaw: Not at you.
Talltail: We’re not supposed to be talking. StarClan won’t approve.
Shrewclaw: They probably don’t approve anyway. You don’t deserve your warrior name after fighting like that in the assessment.
Talltail: You were the first to unsheathe your claws.
Shrewclaw That was just to give it a bit of edge I wasn’t trying to rip your pelt off. You caught me by surprise. Next time, I’ll shred you.

At one point, the book admits it’s more severe bullying, with Dawnstripe saying:
“This has gone beyond teasing! If Shrewpaw were my apprentice, I’d claw his ears.”

However, the book doesn’t go further with this. The action taken against Shrewclaw is never more than his mentor telling him to stop and quickly moving on. Nothing more significant happens, such as authority giving him a lengthy lecture or a punishment. How can Shrewpaw learn, if he barely gets any consequences?

Surprisingly, later on, the book backtracks from Dawnstripe’s comment: Returning to the stance that Shrewclaw’s actions is mere teasing. It is Shrewclaw who says this, so of course he may be biased. However, Tallstar as the pov, doesn’t call him out on this. Instead Tallstar agrees with the term ‘teasing’, therefore the audience would naturally assume that too:

Shrewclaw: “I don’t understand. How can you leave? We trained together. I thought I’d always have you to hunt alongside.”
Talltail: “Hunt with someone else. I thought you’d be glad to see the wormcat leave.”
Shrewclaw: “I’m sorry. I was only ever teasing.”
Talltail: “It’s more fun teasing than being teased.”

When Tallstar brings up his past bullying, Shrewclaw immediately downplayes it and never acknowledges it again. Shrewclaw may have said “Sorry”, but this isn’t a proper apology. He didn’t make the effort to approach Tallstar, his former victim had to goad it out of him first. Also, a proper apology should be longer than two words. Express how he’ll change, admit his specific
Actions – Something!

Then how Shrewclaw says they trained together and wanted him to hunt beside him – He’s trying to push the notion they should be friends onto Tallstar. Which is abundantly untrue. And this isn’t out of ignorance, Tallstar told him many times, he doesn’t like Shrewclaw’s “teasing”:

1) “Stop calling me that!”
2)Shrewclaw: “Has Wormcat been digging tunnels?”
Tallstar:“No, I’ve been catching prey.”
3)“Don’t you get bored of throwing the same old insults?”

Tallstar is obviously uncomfortable around him, yet Shrewclaw doesn’t respect his boundaries. He expects Tallstar to act bubby-bubby with him. It’s almost an indirect form of victim-blaming, as Shrewclaw expects Tallstar to suck it up already and to go to his level. When it should be the other way round: Shrewclaw needs to do the hard work of fixing their friendship and only if Tallstar chooses to go along with it.

When Tallstar leaves, Shrewclaw never uses the time to self-reflect. Sure, Tallstar said it was over his father’s death, however Shrewclaw is very aware of the pain he caused him. Does he ever wonder if he contributed to him running away?Yet Shrewclaw does nothing to change his behaviour towards Tallstar. As the first thing he says to him on his return:

“The worm cat’s back? I thought you’d left for good. […] “What are you doing here, Talltail? Was the land beyond the Clans too scary for you?” But there was curiosity and affection in his mew, underneath the teasing.”

Immediately, he’s undermining his welcoming. He uses the bullying nickname, he was literally told to stop using. Additionally, Shrewclaw admits he’d given up on Tallstar, thinking he’d never return. He knows Tallstar had a bad state of mind, to run away in the first place. So for all Shrewclaw knows, making Tallstar feel unwelcome at this critical time, could encourage him to leave a second time. Yet that’s not enough for Shrewclaw to exercise caution.

The only reason Tallstar tolerates Shrewclaw’s nickname now, is because of his independent development on his journey. This had nothing to do with Shrewclaw: The last he heard, Tallstar told him he hates the way Shrewclaw speaks to him. Yet, Shrewclaw hasn’t changed anything. For the rest of the book, he continues his rude words:

1) Talltail: “Shrewclaw!
Shrewclaw: “What?”
Talltail: “There are stones sticking up all across the Meeting Hollow. Can you organize a patrol to dig them out?”
Shrewclaw: *Narrowed eyes.* “Why don’t you do it?” […] We should ask Hickorynose and Mistmouse to help. They’re used to digging.“

2) “Yes, the warrior code doesn’t apply to Talltail.” Shrewclaw barged through the entrance

Worst of all, Shrewclaw allowed Tallstar to be involved in his attempted murder of Cedarstar.

“Talltail jumped in beside Shrewclaw, pummeling Cedarstar down as the ShadowClan leader tried to struggle free. Shrewclaw glanced in surprise at Talltail. “I’ll help you kill him,” Talltail hissed. Shrewclaw lifted his forepaws and together they swiped at the blood-spattered tom, driving him toward the Thunderpath.”

Yes, it was Tallstar who offered to help first, but that doesn’t mean Shrewclaw had to accept. In fact, it should’ve been his wake up call, that his reckless act is endangering his clanmates. He should’ve ordered Tallstar to stop, seeing this was going too far.

By continuing on, he risked either getting Tallstar killed by a Shadowclan cat, or giving Tallstar’s lifelong trauma for having blood on his hands. Good friends don’t encourage each other to get involved in murder.

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  • Now that I’ve read the article, I’ve never realized how much of a huge jerk Shrewclaw actually was. He actually sucks, there was totally no character development for him & that’s really disappointing.

  • Wonderful article! Really well written! 😀
    I agree 100%! I used to dislike him then grew to be neutral as he “mellowed out” somewhat but you convinced me otherwise today.

    • Shrewclaw is Talltail’s “friend”. Because Talltail’s father was a tunneler and Tallkit tried tunneling, Shrewkit starts calling him “Wormkit”, “Wormpaw”, “Wormcat”, and even “Wormstar” (when Talltail gets 9 lives). Talltail is kind of hurt by this but then accepts it as part of life.

  • Awesome article! I used to be neutral on him, but after I read your article, I realized what a bee-brain he is.

  • Dʀɪᴢᴢ ɪs ʜɪᴛᴄʜɪɴɢ ᴀ ʀɪᴅᴇ ᴏɴ Sᴀɴᴛᴀ’s sʟᴇɪɢʜ (Dʀɪᴢᴢʟᴇᴘᴀᴡ/ᴅʀᴏᴘ, sʜᴇ/ʜᴇʀ) says:

    Awesome article! I like Shrewclaw, but only because he makes the books interesting

  • I also noticed this issue in Tallstar’s Revenge, but I got an impression different from yours. I don’t think it’s about him being a jerk, for me it’s a problem having more to do with development.
    Shrewclaw is clearly meant to overcome his phase of bullyig. That’s what the authors try to establish when he dies and then during the lives ceremony, and Erins are better using descriptions to show someone’s change than dialogue. However, his behaviour says otherwise.
    First, he’s too confident for the arc that he’s meant to have. In real life he’d be most likely very shy, and most likely wouldn’t apologize until the fight scene, because he’s too ashamed to admit. He would rather try to reach out through smaller things, e. g defend him when an older warrior scolded him. The ‘Wormcat’ would be, I think, used only during the ceremony, AFTER they made up with each other, not before, and after he apologizes for using it, as a joke. Also I think that they went too far with the bullying, I mean he’s literally threatening Tallpaw/tail and then he’s going to have a redemption. The Erins at least tried to give him something, and that’s something to appreciate, but it was completely butchered.

  • Replying to the previous comment of mine (due to word limits)

    And – it especially shows then, when even though he’s supposed to not be a bully anymore, but he still makes comments about Talltail not needing to follow the code – I think there’s a reason for this. It’s a bigger issue, The Meanies in Warriors.
    Throughout the series, the authors stick to the type of the ‘meanie’, this cat that isn’t really a villain, makes everything difficult for the protagonist. It’s literally always there – as a bully, a rival, a rude conservative cat in the other clan that would always say ‘code says this, get out of there or I will claw your ears’. And sometimes after one of the meanies died (Mudclaw), the authors replaced him with another one, even previously not mean, to support the plot (Onestar, Tornear). This is, I think, the problem with Shrewclaw. They want him to have a redemption, but also they need someone to cause difficulties in Tallstar’s life. And so we have threats instead of actual childlike bullying and rude comments during the ‘not a bully anymore’ arc.

    • A very good take! I agree. Shrewclaw’s redemption could’ve worked, in my eyes, because a lot of childhood bullies really don’t understand the impact they’re making on other people. I believe he made a remark about “only joking” or something like that, but to Talltail it clearly hadn’t been a big joke. But because of the way the arc was handled, he just kinda died the same way as he lived. :/

  • Now that I came back I realized that conservatism’s an ideology so maybe “conservative” as a description of the Mudclaw-like type wasn’t the best, so sorry

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