Bond, James…I mean Broken Bond

Okay, while I’m still considering Fairies (I know I keep saying they’re coming, and they really are because I keep feeling like there’s a big breakthrough on the edge of my consciousness) I wanted to deal with the breaking of the bond.

I don’t know that anyone who reads here is overly connected to the bond. If you’ve decided to start reading here after the publication of Dead Reckoning, I’d like to say that I did deal with the lack of romantic view of the bond before. A lot of what I said there was reinforced by Dead Reckoning – with quotes such as this:

I should have encouraged you to find a way to break the bond,
and in fact we have a ritual for it. I should have offered it to you.
I was afraid that without it we would be parted, whether
because you didn’t want to be dragged into my troubles or
because Victor found out you were vulnerable.

Dead Reckoning,
p. 183

As you can see, Eric thought the bond was his insurance policy that Sookie would never leave. Any thoughts that Eric is bonded to Sookie out of selfless need to track her? Yeah, out the window. She’s bound to him, as Sookie always said that she was. All the stuff that Sookie said about being “bound” to Eric and “tied” to Eric was a literal thing – a way for Eric to make sure to keep her with him and him only. It meant that she kinda had to find a way to make it work, because she wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t know about you, but I prefer her to be with Eric willingly, and make it work because they both want it to, not because the bond is Eric’s ace in the hole and carte blanche to do what he wants knowing she won’t leave.

As to the second half of his sentence – note that Eric didn’t say “any vampire” found out you were vulnerable. Who else in Area 5 is there now that Victor is dead is there that will want to piss off Eric by killing his wife? Bond or no bond, Victor was always gunning for Sookie, and while Eric might think that the bond does him some good, the only thing it did give him was the ability to know Sookie was okay. She’s an hour’s drive away, and possibly half an hour’s flight away – the bond isn’t anything but reassurance and maybe a way to track her. Conventional men use the telephone, and I think Eric can work that one out…and probably should.

Lest anyone think that an up to the minute update is essential for Eric? Right – cause he was such a help during police procedure into Merlotte’s firebombing, and the fact that he could feel her being frightened a couple of times only served to distract him. Some of Eric’s actions have been less than rational, and make him do irrational shit that he honestly doesn’t need to be doing. Like this:

I could hear Eric yelling when he answered the phone.
Pam said, “Shut up and I’ll explain. Of course, she lives.”

Dead in the Family,
p. 93

The bond didn’t give him any reassurance then, and it almost caused him to drive towards them and rat Pam and Sookie out over Corinna and Bruno’s death. Apart from the courage Eric lent Sookie at the Rhodes conference, I can’t think of one single instance when it has done her any practical good. Sure, he knows how she feels, and he knows she’s in danger…which again, phone anyone? But he hasn’t used the bond to save her in any tangible way. She’s used it to save him though.

And we finally have proof that vampires do not (fanfic retardation ahead) die when their “bonded” dies. That’s the biggest load of crap I’ve ever read. But now, there’s canon contradiction baby:

“Have you ever…?” I asked.
Once, long ago,” he said. He didn’t want to talk about it.
“Did it end well?”
“No,” he said. His voice was flat and didn’t invite me
to continue that line of conversation.

Dead Reckoning, p. 305

Vampires would not put themselves in a position to wither away and die. Does anyone really believe that Andre, the selfless martyr would have done that to himself? No. The vampire doesn’t even wither away and die if they love the human, as Bill obviously did. If Bill can live through it, I doubt that Eric can’t. Unless he’s wussier than Doctor Who and Bill.

One of the things I was going to regret about losing the bond was the dimension that it added to discussing slavery in the South. As I said before, that’s what the overall purpose of the bond is. In a story all about white folk – or mostly white folk – as the main storyline, this is something that didn’t get a look in before the bond. Unlike the show, Tara is white:

We were like big white water lilies in a cold pond, we two.
I made myself straighten up and hold Tara.

Living Dead in Dallas, p. 274

The racial dimension is added through the bond, but without the judgement of “fucking it up” that a white Southern woman would get. It’s why CH is reluctant to explain it to fans – because that opens her up for criticism. She gets enough as it is, without the added caveat of “You’re white, what would you know?” Sookie is white, Eric is white, so the colour differences just don’t come up. She’s still seen as inferior to him due to his race, and now she can be seen as the inferior wife as well, due to her race.

The racial issue still comes up – not in the stupid fanfic pet way – but in the way that Sookie is treated by vampires – seen as the lesser wife due to her race. Of course, it’s not as if Eric has as many rights as Sookie does. She may be a poor as shit barmaid, but she could be a doctor, or buy a casino, when Eric can not. In Sookie’s world, the human world, Arlene has more rights than Eric does. Sookie hardly ever makes him duck his head down when she’s beside him in the car, but it’s perfectly okay if she does it in fanfic, right?

But that’s not the only place. By God, CH is good. She’s replaced the bond with other slavery themes. That being the personage of Mustapha Khan, who provides an excellent mirror of Sookie’s emancipation from slavery:

“KeShawn Johnson” I said thoughtfully, after a little rummage in his head.
“Why’d you change your name?”
He stiffened, and his mouth was grim. “I have reinvented myself,”
he said. “I am not the slave to a bad habit who was named KeShawn.
I am Mustapha Khan, and I am my own man. I own myself.”

Dead Reckoning,
p. 208

Choosing the name “Mustapha Khan” is a tribute to the name changes of African Americans to Arabic ones. Throwing off the old names given to them by slave masters, and reinventing themselves as their own people. The Arabic name change is believed to be something that affirms the pre-slave identity of those shipped over in chains. They would have had Arabic names, before they were given names that the whites could pronounce. So many African American people choose to change their names to Arabic ones and completely throw the legacy of slavery. He appears in the text only after the bond is broken, not before.

Not only that, but it shows the direction Sookie herself is going in – the reinvention of self without the chains of slavery. As she says:

I’d changed in order to survive, and I was paying the price of survival.
I had to be willing to change myself forever, or everything I’d made
myself do was for nothing.
Dead Reckoning, p. 308

Sookie is changing somewhat back to her former self, the one who doesn’t have to stay down in the dark with Eric, but also trying to find a way to incorporate what she needs to to deal with her life. That means not having a Master in Eric, but being more of an equal, and someone who owns herself.

For that reason, I foresee that Mustapha Khan is an excellent choice to join the cast, and shows the direction Sookie will be going in – the urge to be her own woman, her own reinvention, the woman who owns herself. The bond isn’t coming back any time soon, and I for one, am pleased as punch.