Forgiveness in Fiction

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This is probably going to be more of a conversation in the comments than the posts.  At least that’s what I hope.  Feel free to comment on the statements of others and keep things civil if this topic interests you.

So, Charms of the Feykin has an undertone of forgiveness.  More that if it’s possible when a hero makes a horrible mistake.  Delvin and Sari are not themselves, which means they risk crossing some major lines with the others.  Now, you might say that it’s forgivable if the person is under a spell, mind control, body swap, I’m not telling you what’s going on with them, etc.  Others will think that the decision was still their own or they will feel responsible because they had awareness of it.  This is a delicate situation that changes from person to person.

Another reason I bring this up is because I think forgiveness is harder to come by in the real world.  For some reason, we as a society seem big on the ‘one strike’ method.  A person makes a mistake, no matter how small, and they are never allowed to move beyond it and better themselves.  It’s a stigma that our social media world makes sure you remember and even adopt as the core of your existence.  Now, I will say there are unforgivable acts, so don’t think I’m giving a pass to everything.  Let’s get back to fiction.

There will be some acts that the heroes will need to come to terms with.  It might easy for some and hard for others depending on how it turns out.  Something we might not always remember is that there are two pieces to the forgiveness puzzle.  One is that the person hurt needs to give forgiveness and the other is that the person who did the hurting needs to accept it.  Guilt is connected to this because a character or real human can decide that they’re unworthy of forgiveness.  This creates a path of self-loathing that will alter the dynamic of a team-based story.  Will this happen in Legends of Windemere?  Have to read and find out.

Before I hand it over, there is one more piece of the puzzle that the characters and author have no control over.  If a hero or villain does something horrific, the reader is supposed to hate them.  In the case of a hero, it becomes very hard for them to recover.  All of their actions to gain forgiveness will be aimed at the other characters, so it is up to the reader to make the decision.  Here is where inference is essential because some people will never get over the ‘betrayal’ and even stop reading if a hero is the culprit.  So, an author needs to be careful when having a character commit a horrible act.  Wish I had more advice on this, but it seems to be a case by case thing.

So, what do you think about in regards to forgiveness in fiction?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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30 Responses to Forgiveness in Fiction

  1. L. Marie says:

    Since I’ve made some horrific mistakes in my life due to my own choices, I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t been forgiven. So, although it’s hard to forgive sometimes, I can see the need for it. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the consequences of one’s actions are erased. I can’t help thinking of the dude who entered a church and shot a group of people. Many of the family members extended forgiveness to him. But he still went to jail and has to atone for his crime.


    • Funny thing is I didn’t think of forgiveness in the religious sense, but that seems to be what it usually connects to. Mostly, I was thinking of people letting someone move on and find redemption. Seems that isn’t very common these days. A lot of ‘one strike and out’ stuff even over minor issues.


      • L. Marie says:

        By moving on, do you mean someone else’s refusal to take revenge against that person for what he or she did?


      • By ‘letting someone move on’, I mean allowing they to put the past behind them and grow beyond the mistake. For example, repeatedly reminding someone about a mistake would be a way to stop them from moving on and gaining any sense of forgiveness. They become stuck in that mistake without being allowed to move on even if they want to.


  2. I think you’re right out there on the razor’s edge with this topic. I also think it’s where the most brilliant opportunities lie. Research the stages of grieving and try to follow that path. Heroes need to accept that some will never forgive. They also need to accept that nobody else offered to take over in some circumstances. I didn’t do the grieving thing with Jason Fogg, because he isn’t in a novel. A short story is more limited. Some folks don’t like Jason because of his perversion. Others love the guy because he’s working to get over it. If he gets more stories, it will always be a temptation and struggle in his background. I can see a case with no option to sneaking into the ladies locker room to stop a murder. I can see him on his knees before Riley begging for forgiveness too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always forget about those stages even after I see somebody mention them. They’re rather instinctive from what I can tell, but people can easily get stuck on one. Jason Fogg seems to be in a stage of grief or at least attempting to find redemption, which is similar.

      Funny that you mention nobody else offering to take over. That sounds like the easiest way to get over a rough decision. So, what happens if nobody was even able to make the offer or take over? For example, the hero in question is the only one there and it was entirely on their head to make the right decision. Unless I’m mistaking the statement.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So many times in history people will watch and wring their hands. A hero steps up and does what he can. Maybe they can’t save everyone. Maybe they have to accept collateral damage. People will blame the hero, but had he wrung his hands too, it would have been a massacre.

        Jason is slightly different. I’m treating it like an addiction, with accompanying shame. There are no characters around him dealing with forgiveness. They don’t even know what happened. His wife knows now, and I can work that angle if I want to.


      • Jason seems like the lone superhuman in the world too, so it makes me think he’ll always be a little isolated. As far as heroes stepping up, humanity probably wouldn’t have gotten so far without someone to do that. Be a strange world if everyone was a hero. Definitely put a dent in heroic stories too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haven’t though that far ahead with Jason. Maybe he needs a super nemesis at some point. I’m reminded somehow of the Hercules Disney movie. The part where Herc travels from town to town ridding the people of monsters. They stand and watch, expecting results.


      • Seems that type of hero functions better in older societies instead of the more modern stuff. Not sure why. Maybe we have a different definition of heroes these days. Curious as to what kind of nemesis Jason would have. The powers would have to match in some fashion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No idea at this time. I like him working in secret though. Too hard to bring him into the open when all he can fog out is himself.


      • Makes a lot of sense for his personality too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Just circled back through to see what great comments others left. This is a tragedy. It’s a great topic and deserves more input.


  4. One aspect that goes a long way toward forgiveness is the contrite request for same. Yes, there has to be forgiveness given and received but readers and characters alike seem to be more open when the offender is sorry and asks to be forgiven.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. paigeaddams says:

    I think you’re right – there is a tendency to “one strike and you’re out” with mistakes. It’s so easy to fall into that mindset, especially if you’ve been betrayed or hurt on a really large scale. Not like, my husband ate all my chocolate, and now I have to decide if I’m going to destroy him or not – but like, someone ran over my dog and drove off, or someone murdered my friend (as examples, I haven’t experienced those last two… but the chocolate… that man is lucky to be alive). I’ve had trouble with forgiveness myself, thinking justice hasn’t been served in some way, or someone is getting away with hurting others. It’s a tough thing.

    I try to forgive, but never forget. Just because I’ve overcome something, doesn’t mean I should forget what happened completely. I can learn from it, and grow from it. Maybe even help someone else who’s going through something similar. And I can make sure I’m never in that situation again.

    Whether it’s with fictional characters, or with real live people, I think not being able to forgive would follow them around like a shadow. If you can’t forgive, that person/event will always be there, coloring your decisions, and the way you interact with others. It can give you a skewed perspective, and make it harder to read a situation, or conversation, for what it really is.

    So, if I’ve been cheated on, for example, and I never forgive, I could carry that into my next relationship. Or see all men as liars and cheats. The next man may suffer for what the previous did.

    I think that’s an interesting idea to bring into fictional characters. It would make them more relatable, and more real, I think. 🙂 I love that kind of depth in a character. It makes it easier for me to care about them, and sympathize.

    Lol, right now I have this issue, as a viewer, with Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones. *ugh* A sympathetic bad guy, who I could almost forgive because he’s doing good things now. It makes him very memorable as a character. 🙂


    • I think we all have times where we feel like justice hasn’t been served. That’s one of the things about our system. The wrong decision can be made, which lets a guilty party go free or an innocent one get jailed. It strikes us when we’re outside of the court room, so we feel like something should have been. Forgiveness tends to be very far down the list after all manner of illegal forms of torture. As far as forgetting, I agree. Though, I’ve learned it is a slippery slope to obsession and you have to be careful not to expect the bad from everyone. The cheating example highlights that perfectly.

      There’s a Game of Thrones character who isn’t dead? 😛 Seriously, I don’t imagine a lot of those character being able to earn forgiveness. I haven’t read or watched, but it sounds incredibly brutal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paigeaddams says:

        Agreed – that would be a hard thing, trying not to get caught up when you can’t forget. It’s a very fine line. I like trying to apply that to characters where I can. And the feelings of guilt that you mentioned too. I don’t think all characters need it, to have depth. I also like the blindingly happy, bubbly sort too. But I do like to see some characters mixed in that have that kind of baggage, and are working through it during the course of the story.

        Lol, and I know what you mean! Every time someone looks too happy, or even too comfortable, in Game of Thrones, my husband and I just look at each other and start guessing when exactly they’re going to die. Happy people don’t seem to live long in that show, lol. Jaime is pretty much the only one out of the large number of bad guys that I feel a bit sorry for, and it’s only been since about the middle of season 3 that I started to feel that way.

        And you’re right about it being incredibly brutal too. There are some scenes where I’m like, ‘was that really necessary?’ There’s also a lot of naked going on too. My husband and I joke about whether or not they’re eventually just going to cut out the middle dialogue and jump straight into killing people while naked. XD I’m only on season 5, so there’s still plenty of time to slip that in.

        It’s definitely a show worth watching though. Just be careful, lol – this is also a slippery slope into obsession. I swear, it’s like tv crack. My mom let me borrow all the seasons, and I’ve barely done anything responsible since. I just binge watch Game of Thrones. Lol, it’s a problem. XD


  6. Funny thing about the happy, bubbly characters is that those tend to come under a lot of criticism. I have friends that hate those types and root for them to get broken. It’s character development, but rather predictable. Something to be said for a happy character staying that way even in the face of disaster.

    ‘Was that really necessary?’ is starting to become the GoT catchphrase. 🙂 My introduction to it was when a friend bought me the first book for my birthday. His pitch was ‘every character you get attached to will die’. I read for characters, so that wasn’t a good pitch. Honestly, I tried to watch a few episodes and it didn’t grab me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paigeaddams says:

      Even though I do like the straight forward rainbows and flowers type character, I like it even more when they have a hidden side. Maybe they show only smiles and pleasantness to acquaintances, but they’re more honest with the few people they let close. Lol, I’m not sure I’d want an entire book of these types (too many bubbles would be predictable, you’re right), but I do like to see one here and there.

      And I can’t blame you – there have been several characters that got offed, and I nearly gave up on the series. XD This has been the only show where it hasn’t been a deal-breaker for me when someone I like dies. However – there are 2 characters that have made it to season 5 so far, and if they die, that’s it! This show will be fired! XD


  7. I see a dichotomy between “unforgivable” events or actions in fiction vs. real life. In fiction, people can be very black-and-white. There’s a desire for clear outcomes and sometimes for stern justice. I’ve had reader comments when a perceived “bad guy” did not die in the end, or if the happily-ever-after wasn’t pure and golden.

    By contrast, in real life, we understand there are complicated circumstances, and we do hope people can change and mature. The process is frustrating, though, and hence the demand for simple answers in fiction.


    • I agree. Though, I do worry that we’re seeing more people expect reality to be black-and-white. They want their bad guys destroyed and their good guys to be infallible, which simply isn’t how the real world works. Well, the first part can happen with a very strict death penalty. This could be a very vocal minority though because the Internet always makes it hard to tell where humanity is really standing on such things.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great topic!! I do think we’re too easy to condemn sometimes, but yes, there are some things that test that forgiveness.


  9. Pingback: Reading Links…9/22/16 – Where Genres Collide

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