Okay, this one is an offshoot of the fairy post. I was thinking about the furore created when Claudine was killed. That was the one death that wounded some people. I didn’t like it much myself, but it makes logical sense from the point of view of the books, and I’m going to point out why.
One of the things I have seen said, many many times though, is that Claudine had “no reason” to be killed off. Yeah, that would be the world where things don’t happen according to having a reason. We call it the real world. CH writes about a world where AIDS, hatred, Ebola – all of those things exist – but there’s supernatural creatures as well. Lots of people don’t seem to understand that the real world doesn’t have reasons. In fact, it may surprise you to know that the leading cause of death amongst pregnant women in the USA is homicide Source. That’s in this real world – not birth complications or pregnancy complications. Laci Petersen is one of many.
So killing pregnant women via murder is something that happens all the time in real life. If a woman has an abusive husband or boyfriend, he’s more likely to hurt her at that point, as he is when she breaks up with him. That’s not some sort of beat up – the sheer amount of dross about glowing with pregnancy and how no one would hurt a woman with child is the lie, not the other way round. The myth that pregnant women are untouchable is the nasty little myth – one that serves as a danger to women. *PMR ponders the possibility that now pregnant women taking such risks being all pregnant around abusive guys will be blamed by some of the charming women of this fandom for their role in inviting crime.*
The other part of this – apart from realism is what separates the fanfic author from the real author. An important thing about being a good writer is being willing to do the tough things – as someone said to me via PM – the ability to “kill your darlings”. A good writer should kill their darlings – not make everything cushy for them. That’s a tough call, and why CH is so far above most fanfic writers – the darling of the fanfic set is Eric, but he’s rarely killed – unless it’s to show Sookie the lesson of doing what she’s told, and to fuck her life up. He never dies of stupid misadventure because he’s a thrillseeker. Oh, maybe in Bill fic, which is just often the polar opposite of bad to average Eric fic.
By doing that, CH shows the sort of daring bravery needed to make writing matter. Claudine, the fictional character is mourned around the fandom as undeserving of her fate. The death hits the reader in the gut, much as it does Sookie. Same thing happened with Gran. Fanfic is not often brave – it’s very staid to the point where one can almost guarantee that certain things won’t happen. If Sookie and Eric are in a fic together, they end up together, and Sookie is ever willing to sacrifice every ounce of pride for that relationship for the most part and the story is about the happy subsuming of Sookie’s personality into Eric’s orbit and life so they can bone all the time.
Not only that, but she turned the fairy tale stereotype so prevalent in the sort of fiction girls are raised on, on its head. In the fairytales, the moral of the story is that the evil fairy godmother with bad intentions for the heroine is killed. In this adult fiction, the relatively good Claudine (because she does kill things at times with wild abandon to protect her charge, so just saying “good” is a little unwarranted) is killed for having the best of intentions for the heroine. Much like CH has taken other stereotypes and reinvigorated them, she’s done the same with the idea of the fairy godmother – who for once does what is seen as traditionally a male thing to do – sacrifice himself in battle to save his family. That one is so hackneyed Alan Ball does it with Eric. Here it is Claudine, fairy godmother who does the thing that matters so much that it’s been the realm of the ‘great’ male characters.
The other part of it is to show the reader exactly what sort of life this is – amongst the supernatural creatures. That it’s not better, or some glorious way to becoming better than humans – it’s more brutal and has more wars and skirmishes than the human world does. It often surprises me that readers exhort Sookie to accept that she’s part of a supernatural world – but they forget that the supernatural world doesn’t make differentiations on some of these things – not like readers seem to think – this is a world where honour doesn’t make much sense in the heat of battle. Nor does our real world make those differentiations.
Does anyone remember Eric stopping to check and see if Debbie Pelt was pregnant and stopped Sookie from shooting her? No. That’s because when it comes down to it, it’s kill or be killed. Nor did he check if any of the weres and humans in Sookie’s living room in Club Dead had kids that would have Daddy never come home. You can bet your arse Eric Northman has been killing humans with children for a long time now. That’s what ruthless really means. That’s what being part of the supernatural world requires – not just the one-foot-in, one-foot-out existence Sookie lives, but the really in it all the time existence. It doesn’t mean killing only those who should really die – it means killing who you need to and who is convenient.
It often sounds really great from Eric’s perspective, but does it sound so wonderful, when you’re Frannie, possibly being forced to be a blood whore while Quinn’s out of commission because Eric had Quinn whipped for entering his Area? Really? Cause that doesn’t sound so crash hot to me. It almost makes it sound like Eric is a heartless bastard, and maybe Sookie is right to not just to cheer him on. Part of the benefit of Sookie’s distance from the supernatural world is that she can actually comment on that because she’s not forced to live by their rules 24/7. CH says herself that Eric saw Quinn fighting in the pit – source – do you think he had any sympathy for a pre-teen Frannie then? Yeah, sure he did. I bet he bought her a chocolate milkshake and everything.
But the same rules apply with pregnant Claudine, entering into battle. If you’re in the battle, then no one is going to pull their punches. No one is going to give you time off to be a mother. If you’re there, it’s kill or be killed. No one is going to stand back respectfully so that an opponent doesn’t get hurt. Otherwise the first battle troops would be pregnant women – who would be untouchable. On top of that, there’s practicality. Best to get rid of two enemies for the price of one, right? That baby is only going to grow up and oppose you – better to get rid of an enemy not yet out of the womb.
But the question then becomes “Well why did CH put Claudine into the battle in the first place?”
One of the reasons is because as Eric says, all the surviving fairies are “determined survivors” – which is code for “ruthless as hell”. If you’re going into battle against someone who is going to wholesale slaughter your side if they win, you don’t sit back and wait for them to come and get you – you actively fight them. Whichever side wins will be the ones to be slaughtering the other side – and I’m sure there is absolutely no way that Claudine wanted to sit back and give that a possibility of happening. It was all hands on deck time – even pregnant hands. As Sookie says – active is better than passive.
Another reason is that like it or not, if you’re assigned as a protector, then that’s what you do. Claudine doesn’t seem to have the easy sort of relationship with Niall that one would expect. When Sookie asks her what she calls Niall in From Dead to Worse, she says “My Lord”. Niall seems in large part to be driven by bias when it comes to his children – he’s more concerned with Fintan than he is with Dermot, more concerned with his human by-blows than with his full blooded fairy children. As Sookie observes, he doesn’t root his ideas in fact, but rather is swung heavily by emotional bias. He was more than willing to trade off Sookie’s safety for the safety of Claudine and her baby – Niall gave her a duty, and he expected it to be done. She wanted to follow him, and so she went along with it.
So why make Claudine pregnant at all, knowing she was going to be going into battle? One of the reasons I thought it was a good idea to have the whole pregnant women being killed is that it shows just how impossible it is for Sookie to have a baby. It shows how cruel that supernatural world is – because the war doesn’t go on hold for when Claudine’s had her baby and put it in a crib off to the side.
Rarely do I see fans raging about Crystal being a pregnant woman killed – in a far more brutal and horrifying manner – but then Crystal is seen as a slut. Sluts deserve to die, and have nothing good come of them, and no one should mourn them either seems to be the whole idea. But Claudine was a good person, and thus, it’s terrible that she died, and her baby died with her. If ever Sookie wanted to have a baby, Claudine is the number one reason why she wouldn’t actually go through with something so heartless – and it shows that there is a reason not to bring a kid like Hunter into the supernatural world. After all – Mel struck Crystal, and Eric measured her “worth” – and that baby was half Jason too.
The biggest reason though – the literary reason why Claudine had to die – was because what if she didn’t? According to Claudine, she was:
looked luminous. “After years of being…well, a good citizen, I guess you’d call it,
I got a person to guard. The Sook, here.”
Definitely Dead, p. 191
If Claudine had lived through the Fae War, and the portals were closed, what would her options be? Discarding her duties, or her family? Claudine wanted to be an angel way before she got pregnant – she’d been moving that way. What would have happened if she’d stayed here? You think it would have been a nice choice for Claudine to give up her family, stay on Earth and protect Sookie? Cause I don’t see a good mother making the unilateral choice for her child to be in one side or the other, and I don’t see a caring Dad just letting the baby he’s never seen be sealed off in another dimension where the mother could be killed. Or perhaps she should give up her dream to become an angel so that she could be an unfulfilled mother? Adding the baby to the mix makes it better – as mentioned above – an important thing for a writer to do is kill their darlings. CH made sure that Claudine’s death was really senseless and brutal.
Claudine, if she’d lived would had to make a choice of one or the other – baby or path. CH gave her a much kinder mercy – she didn’t make Claudine sacrifice all that she’d worked for, or her baby – she sent Claudine and her baby off to the Summerland, rather than give the character some indignity and let her go unfulfilled. You can see that it never would have worked. Either way, Claudine had to die, or give up ever having babies. She didn’t want a mixed race baby, and says so herself that she doesn’t. Life was hard for Fintan and Dermot. Nothing is going to be easy for any mixed race/species baby, and that doesn’t do anything to preserve the purity of the race of the Fae.
The way that CH chose to deal with Claudine marked her out as a writer with punch – her characters actually matter because bad things can and do happen to them rather than the lollipop lane fantasy of fanfic – and she gave her dignity. She never forced Claudine to make a really hard choice on what she wanted to do – give up Claude and the human dimension and never become an angel, or give up her baby and all of the Fae values Claudine held dear.
As for the somewhat loathsome idea that Sookie is responsible for Claudine’s death and the death of her baby? Ugh – those Sookie haters are the worst bitches that ever lived, aren’t they? Sookie so wasn’t responsible at all. That was up to Niall and ultimately Claudine herself. It’s not as if she wasn’t aware that someone would hurt a pregnant woman:
looked like someone had tried to push her through a wood chipper.
Her arms were bare and covered with scratches, scrapes, and cuts.
Her face was a mess.
If Claudine was concerned with the health of her baby, then she should have hightailed it out of there at that point. Fuck what Niall told her to do – and fuck the job too. But being a protector meant something to her. It was essential for all of her own reasons to be there for Sookie. She made the decision after that to re-enter the fray. Claudine is responsible for her own actions, and so is Breandan. Even Colman knew that:
doing what she thought was right,” I said.
“He knew,” Claude admitted. “That was why he couldn’t bring himself
to kill you, even before he saw the child.”
Dead in the Family, pp. 307-308
Nothing would have stopped Claudine from doing what she thought was right. And what she thought was right was doing the job that she’d wanted to do for years. The responsibility is Claudine’s for the risk, and Breandan is responsible for killing that baby – not Sookie. Sookie had nothing to do with the choices of others, and she paid adequately for the ‘sin’ of not checking where she was going on a night when she was under immense stress. The mouthbreathers who act like she’s responsible for the ills of the world would not fare so well, I think under the weight of Sookie’s life.
Claudine had to die, or she’d be dreadfully unhappy living in a world with the portals cut off. It had a deep impact on readers, and it was the right ending for a good character. It made her matter.