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A Warriors theme question - YA fantasy and SF
...for adult readers!
fernwithy
ya_f_sf
fernwithy
A Warriors theme question
I'll try to give enough to discuss without people having read the books yet. :)

The basic set-up of the Warriors books is that there are four clans of feral cats living in the forest. Repeatedly, they're put into positions where they have to work together, despite their rivalary (and all are ruled over by StarClan, the spirits of their ancestors), and they have shared history all the way. In the second series, they nearly all join in order to make a journey together when the forest is razed for a superhighway. There are cross-clan friendships, and generally mutual respect for the leaders (all of whom are supernaturally endowed with the traditional nine lives, naturally).

But at the same time, it's repeatedly stressed that there need to be four clans, and that attempts to abolish the four-clan system--its rivalries included--are only made by evil cats. Good cats work together when necessary, then return to their clans when the danger is over, and value their clan traditions and loyalties. The evil cat of the first series displayed his evil most prominently in his forcible joining of two of the clans, and use of intimidation tactics to try and force the other two to capitulate. During a major battle, the hero, Firestar, goes to StarClan and asks for help in winning, and he says that it's because the cats need to be reminded that there have always been four clans in the forest--StarClan corrects him... but only to say, "No, there have always been five." At another point, he makes the observation that "the lines that divide us are also the lines that join us," giving the impression of seams more than sunderings, despite the often violent clashes.

So... what is the political message coming out of it?

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Comments
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: July 25th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Enlightened self-interest? A sort of mythic glorification of capitalist competition?
I don't know if the clan structure is supposed to be a political statement (though I've only read the first book), but more of a "well, wild cats probably run in packs, and I want to create a fully realized cat culture, so..." and we end up with a positively presented, religiously enforced clan structure. Actually, more than anything, the cat clan culture reminds me of an alien society if I'm understanding your overall description of how clan divisions are represented. The classic human response in a story like this would be for the Hero to be the great unifier; seemingly arbitrary divisions of a single race would be seen as a fundamentally bad thing. But if the point is to tell the story of actual (well, what Hunter sees as "actual," at least in an artistic sense) cats and not little humans who are soft and fuzzy, then some things that feel off to us may feel completely right to them and what seems like feline dogma (har!) to us may be an obvious part of the Law of Nature to them.
Creating a believable alien or feline culture, though, is a very hard thing to do, and even harder to write about if you don't have a human perspective on it (which apparently Firepaw/heart/star does NOT provide, kittypet background notwithstanding), so Hunter may have not down an entirely satisfactory job of it. In which case she's probably promoting some political message whether she knows it or not...Seeing as I no longer know what I'm talking about, I'll stop now.
Now I have no choice but to buy more Warrior books at Borders today, do I?
the_jackalope From: the_jackalope Date: July 25th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've read the first four or maybe five of them, and I'm not too sure what the theme is. Though I think it might be something about finding your place within the society you choose to live in, without disrupting that society. So Rusty, who chooses the Warrior clans must find his own place, a common enough theme. But the bad guys, for lack of a better term, are the ones who disrupt society rather than challange Fireheart, though they do that as well, but mostly in the context of disputing the current leader/society. So it seems to be a two-fold theme going on.
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: July 25th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Haven't read them, but it sounds to me like a diversity good, globalisation bad theme. Not that interaction with and alliances with other cultures are bad, but that in becoming one culture without distinctions, something is lost.

Or perhaps a promotion of the MMP multi-party system, but that may just be my own political bias.
From: iamweebles Date: July 26th, 2006 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, it sounds rather like hegemony bad, but unity/cooperation good. I think that's a tricky message though, not having read the books. At what point does a resistance to hegemony mean isolation and cultural stagnation? (Just sort of pondering off the cuff - very hard to sound intelligent when I haven't read them)
other_girl87 From: other_girl87 Date: July 26th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, from what you've said, I agree that it's promoting a multi-party system...sort of. More specifically, I think that it is promoting the existence of differing world-views. Yes, we all have to lay aside our differences sometimes, but that doesn't mean our differences should cease to exist. Without debate (or bloodshed, as the case may be) the idea pool tends to stagnate.
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