Referencing the Past

I got thinking about the difference between an antagonist and a protagonist this morning. The real difference might be in how they ‘reference’ (remember/learn from) the past

Imagine this scenario:

Two children have an almost identical upbringing. They have happy childhoods and loving parents. When they reach adulthood, one of them still remembers their childhood and sometimes think back to the days when the world was innocent in their eyes. The other, however, has left their childhood far behind and detached themselves from the past. They rarely think back and they feel that they have to move on now that they are an adult.

I’ll leave it to you to imagine which child becomes ‘good’ and not. In truth, it’s never quite as black and white as this example. Think of the Taliban in the Middle East, the capitalist western world or a mugger who steals to feed his family. In my opinion, sometimes an antagonist is someone who has left the happiness and mystery of childhood behind.

Our greatest lessons and values are learned in our early lives. What happens if we try to shut away our memories of that early period? Do we perhaps start to lose our sense of right and wrong? Can you imagine that Hitler ever took a moment to remember himself as a child while committing terrible crimes against humanity? Children are born innocent and without prejudice, until the world around them affects them in some way. If a person embraces that early child within themselves regularly, perhaps they will be a better person. Perhaps not. Perhaps I’m wrong. But it’s my opinion in any case.

I wonder if you agree or disagree? Care to share your views on this?

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4 thoughts on “Referencing the Past

  1. hereticfox 24-Jan-2012 / 18:59

    Rockin’ post!

    I’ve never really sat down and speculated at length on the subject. Usually, readers trust the narrator to make it very clear to them which of the characters/factions are protagonists and which are antagonists. After all, narrator’s telling us the story, so they’re unbiased and only honest, right?

    Either side of any war will usually try to impress upon others that only they are just. If the two children referenced in the example were to meet, each would probably consider themselves the protagonist and their rival the antagonist; both justifying themselves accordingly to how their personal virtues reflect upon their present lives. In “their” stories, only the winner will be the most likely to gain an observer’s belief in whomever is right.

    But… I would still agree that how they learn from their past probably greatly inspires their perspective. The virtues they may have valued while they were under the protective guidance of their parents could have been totally tossed to the winds if they’ve chosen to totally distance themselves from their past.

    I’m too bloody philosophical, give me the chance to provide an opinion and I’ll give you two.

  2. kidspartyheaven 28-Jan-2012 / 13:26

    Oh I so love this. I’m with you all the way.

    Keep that inner child happy and alive!

    ( I feel sorry for those who deny their inner child, they must lead such dull lives)

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