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Redeeming the Villain

September 18, 2015
Posted at 10:48 am

I'm working on Part VIII of LNDtH and rereading Part VII as it posts. I'm touched by the many comments and compliments I received on Chapter 40: True Confessions. When I first introduced John Clinton, Cassie's father, back in Part I, he was a firm, highly religious man. His iron fist seemed to be ready to condemn and to even coerce Brian into attending church. In Part II, he condemned the agreement and tore up Cassie's copy, forbidding her to participate with the group. But there was a crack in his fa├žade that Brian exploited to get him to permit Cassie to participate in group events.

Part III finds John irate and not even talking to his daughter about her role in the Great Debate. His conservative leanings are under attack, but this time, Brian's father leans on John's obvious care and concern for his daughter's well-being. John is a nemesis with a heart and ultimately allows Cassie to even go on a date with Brian.

In Parts IV-V, John's true caring nature emerges as he comforts and pretty much adopts Josh after Denise's death. He recognizes, however, that the price of Josh's redemption will be Cassie as the two fall in love. Still, he is happy because she has found a mate who is a man of God. He is challenged in Part VI with the knowledge that even though she is living with her parents, Cassie and Josh consider their home to be in Bloomington with the rest of the clan. And there is an indication that John has opened his heart to the clan, what they stand for, and his daughter's part in it. Ultimately he consents to Cassie and Josh moving to Bloomington.

Which leads us to the startling revelations of his transformation in Part VII, chapter 40. John is redeemed and comforted in his faith by a man who has none.

As I work on Part VIII, I realize that John's role is not over in this story. With Brian's parents and Anna, he continues to be one of the most influential members of the tribe.

But that is not what this post is about. As I write this, I realize that the villains who beat, murder, and threaten the clan are not redeemed. The bullies are summarily executed--literally or figuratively. It's what we want to have happen to bullies. We want the good guy to rise above and put the bastard in his place. We seldom see the bad guys emerge to redemption like John does. Of course, while John was an opponent, he was never really a villain. He wasn't evil. He had strong opinions, but he didn't beat his daughter. He didn't try to bankrupt the clan. He didn't burn their home.

I try to avoid the national and local news as much as possible. I find that what people say on Facebook is enough of a mirror of what is in the media that I don't need to expose myself to the constant assault of biased reporting. And I include all sides of any argument in that. But I find that we are constantly in need of villains that we can strike out against. We make them up where none exist. We gladly join in the "Outrage Culture" to vent our righteous indignation at whatever disagrees with our cherished beliefs. There are many people and cultures we villainize in order to satisfy our need for clear-cut bad guys in black hats that are distinct from the good guys in white hats.

We have lost, in fact, the concept of the redeemable.