The “Southern Raiders” illustration of "Avatar: The last Airbender’ defies the ubiquitous concept that forgiveness is essential, allowing Katara come not just refuse to forgive the guy who murdered her mother, but additionally exact revenge ~ above him.
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The concept of forgiveness manages to it is in both totally nebulous and unignorably ubiquitous. It defies clean definition; some say that it’s a procedure of absolution, while others say that it’s a way of surrendering okay feeling towards one’s wrongdoer (the first hit ~ above Google merely specifies forgiveness as “the activity or procedure of forgiving or being forgiven”). The alleged requirement of forgiveness in order to heal, grow, and also move ~ above is nevertheless endlessly touted. The load of forgiveness also necessarily falls on the marginalized and also harmed; that is the victim that is called that, while your pain may not be their fault, it is they who should initiate the process of resolving it. It is therefore that i am so enamored through “Southern Raiders,” the 16th illustration in the third and last season the Avatar: The last Airbender, together it imagines a situation wherein a wronged individual — collection regular Katara — refuses come forgive.
Throughout the series, Katara is defined by she rage. This rage stems indigenous her ongoing oppression under early american rule and also the trauma that has actually been inflicted ~ above her together a result. Katara is a racialized character belonging to the fictitious Water people — i beg your pardon is coded together Inuit — and has lived under colonial rule and also occupation by the Fire nation for her entire life. Furthermore, and also most crucially, the Fire country is responsible because that the murder of her mother, which, in addition to she father’s exit to fight in the war, has required Katara to prosper up and take obligation in a method that no 14-year-old ought to. Katara is an native woman who has faced severe loss, who continues to endure under a violent early american regime, and who is deep traumatized as a result. Of details note is Katara’s unabashed and also enduring hatred for the Fire Nation, a hatred that boils end in this illustration as Katara has to complete with she mother’s murder.
Katara ultimately decides that she will look for revenge on the human being who killed her mother, aided by Zuko. Prior to her departure, however, over there is a short stand-off through two various other principal characters: present protagonist and also staunch pacifist Aang, and Katara’s brothers Sokka. That is right here that the episode’s many striking exchange of dialogue takes place: Aang urges Katara to forgive the guy who has caused her pain, insisting that it is the only way through i m sorry she can heal. Katara says that she cannot simply stand around and also do nothing, bring about Aang to tell her that forgiveness is hard, to which she retorts that it is impossible. Unfettered by Aang’s pacifist beliefs, Katara goes on her journey.
It’s impossible. Katara’s statement, paired v her angry blue eyes and also her steady tone, does no leave room for more discourse. Katara refuses to game a reality wherein she healing deserve to only be promoted by what she sees as absolution the the man responsible for her trauma in the an initial place. Over there is no consideration. There is no advantage of the doubt. Katara refuses to forgive. And, true to she word, the episode ends without Katara ever forgiving her mother’s murderer.
In intuitive terms, the illustration is distinctively dark. Katara and also Zuko begin their journey at night, during which the skies is a motionless dark grey. That soon starts to rain, and also then to pour. The journey, conserve for a hiccup within Katara and Zuko mistakenly assault a Fire nation general that they wrongfully thought was the killer, is quiet; the just sounds are that the the rain, the wind, and the echoes that the dark atmosphere. This episode, through its artwork, uses the device of pathetic fallacy come validate Katara’s emotions. The rage and grief she feels are so overwhelming the her surroundings aptly winter them. This is particularly true in regards to the putting rain. Katara is a waterbender, meaning that she own the volume to mould and wield water for everything from heal to fighting. The torrent the rain, therefore, not only profoundly mirrors she emotions, but is one in-universe encourage for Katara come enact revenge, to obtain catharsis through a way more tangible 보다 forgiveness.
When Katara is finally confronted with she mother’s murderer, she discovers the he is one elderly male living in a basic village with his nagging mother. The way that the is depicted, both in the show’s present temporality and in flashbacks that the moment leading as much as his murder of Katara’s mother, occupational to ironically decenter his importance. In rhetoric around the importance of forgiveness, advocates often insurance claim that forgiveness is necessary due to the fact that harboring ok feeling toward the wrongdoer actually provides them power. However, here, the man is utterly powerless. The is a covering of the human being he once was: a retired general who is currently frail and bitter. Also in the flashbacks the the moment leading approximately the murder, the man’s appearance is distorted so that he cannot be fully seen; his Fire nation regalia is fashioned in together a method that his just distinctive function is his eyes. If eyes space the window to the soul, then this purposeful artistic selection both accurate shrouds his gift while likewise emphasizing his evilness. We notably never even see the actual murder take it place since we don’t need to. The illustration refuses to manipulate Katara’s trauma by showing her mother’s fatality in graphic detail, and instead permits Katara to take centre stage.
When Katara is prepared to enact she revenge, she hold literal rule over nature. V a few movements of her hands, the pathetically fallacious world bends to her will: the rainwater solidifies, sharpens into blades, and also hurtles toward the cowering murderer, that shields himself, preparing because that impact. But the influence never comes. The icy daggers float in the air, inches far from the masculine face, and then, with one more movement of Katara’s hand, the ice liquefies and also drenches the man. The is soaked and shaken, but not dead. Katara leaves him crying right into the soil; pathetic, as she suitably calls him. Aang misinterprets this pardoning as evidence of forgiveness, because that which the congratulates her. Yet Katara is certain to exactly him: she there is no forgiven him, and asserts that she never will.
Katara’s emotionally resolution is conveyed with a shift in her environment. Gone room the rain and also wind and darkness of she journey, changed by the serenity the a bright orange sunset. V this enduring follow to pathetic fallacy, the episode maintains that Katara’s internal resolution to be not, and also could not have been, promoted through forgiveness. “The southern Raiders” deems forgiveness, for Katara at least, to be an impossibility.
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In a people that so frequently privileges forgiveness as medicinal and also that also unilaterally discourages feminine, racialized wrath, “Southern Raiders” imagines a fact wherein traumatized human being — special, racialized ladies — are both centered and also able to job-related through their grief and trauma in the way that they check out fit. This illustration does not ar the onus top top the scorned human being to enact pardon, but instead enables her the an are to grapple through the feelings the come v her trauma, to game the possibility of even violent revenge, and to say that it is okay for her not to pardon — one deserve to heal there is no it. In this way, “Southern Raiders” uses a space for restorative justice. This episode imagines a human being wherein survivors of trauma space at the forefront and also are may be to cure on their very own terms, regardless of whether of moralization indigenous those who perform not grapple v the very same pain.