An idea that’s been poking my mind for a while now (and perhaps even longer) is the concept of strength and weakness. This is also in part because of a discussion I made involving the Breakfell ant girls and them joining Daniel’s Alliance, and the comment I was given on that discussion.
When a person thinks of the word “strong”, what comes to mind? Physical strength that allows you to crush stones with your bare hands? Genius intellect that can outsmart an entire army without throwing a single punch? A spirit whose determination is so powerful it can withstand all the world’s ridicule?
And when a person thinks of the word “weak”, what do you picture? Barely having enough strength to raise your legs and walk? Being only smart enough to do a few menial tasks? Possessing low confidence because of a harsh past or a lack of friends?
Is there some universally shared idea when it comes to strength? Or . . . is it something flexible, something that differs between people?
For example, the ant girls of Queen Victoria’s nest. Despite possessing immense physical strength, they frighten easily at the mere sight of ant lionesses. They have the power to fight, but not the courage.
On the other hand, the Breakfell ant girls, like Saffron, couldn’t be more different, and not just with their red abdomens. Besides possessing massive physical strength, they welcome danger on a daily basis and are “always ready to die” (S.1, Act XII, Ch.13). They value bravery and strength like others value oxygen. Unlike Queen Victoria’s ant girls, Saffron’s sisters won’t accept just any man as a breeding tool. They use only the strongest, most powerful men. They even have fights in the dinning halls where the losers are publicly humiliated and the victors get to brag about it.
Between the two, which would you say is the “stronger” nest?
With that question in mind, let me ask you all another; one that’s both obvious yet not so obvious.
Is being “strong” good? And if so, is being “weak” bad?
What constitutes “strength” to someone and what can be defined as “weakness” to another?
Forgive me if I sound naïve or too theory obsessed, but when it comes to this particular question, I think the best answer is: “Yes AND No, for both.”
Yes, I know my answer is kind of “weak”. So, allow me to give it “strength” by setting some examples.
Throughout “Chronicles of Eden,” Daniel Sorres is set on establishing peace in his world: to end the violence, raping, and senseless death between humans and races referred to as “monsters.” When the series first started, Daniel wasn’t exactly what you call a “strong character.” He didn’t know how to fight, he didn’t have the experience or evidence to back up his theories, and he wasn’t even very brave when it came to danger.
Simply put, he wasn’t the typical masculine, muscle-packed, intimidating tough guy typical of those glorious fantasy stories. And truth be told, even in Season 2, he’s NOT a “typical masculine, muscle-packed, intimidating tough guy.”
Daniel’s just not that kind of character. Even after he learned to use a sword and fight, he doesn’t rely on things like brute force, threats, or weapons to get his point across.
Before the beautiful character development that transformed him throughout Season 1, Daniel was strong in other places. First and foremost, he proved himself a good public speaker. His biased-free mind, his knowledge, and his firm resolve to create a better world and to see the good in “non-human” people. These were all strengths that Daniel possessed from the very beginning. And in Season 2, he still has these strengths and improved upon them, like his ability to tell the cold, hard truth to people who are notoriously stubborn or hesitant.
Throughout Season 1, Daniel’s experiences and encounters with different races changed him. He’s now a skilled fighter, he can use an ultra-rare kind of magic, and he’s bold enough to be assertive and wise enough to know when to hold back. Despite being “weak” at one point, he was able to change himself and become “stronger,” in more than one sense.
The point is: nobody is born weak OR strong. Strength or weakness are things that can change overtime, depending on the person and the circumstances.
And what it means to be “strong” also differs with societies. Every race is “strong” and “weak” in their own ways. Giant Butterflies, despite being physically weak, are excellent at deception, construction, and design. Centaurs, despite being lightning fast and noble souls, lack the simple ability of being able to climb stairs. Witches, one of the most powerfully races when it comes to magic and its infinite possibility, die almost instantly if so much as a single ember touches their skin. They’re basically walking, enchanted kindling!
And the Breakfall ant girls? Sure, they may be strong. Sure, they may welcome death with a cocky smirk. And sure, they may be able to blow up most of their problems and call it a day. But one weakness they DO possess is their pride. Yes, I know; pride can be a source of strength, as shown in Saffron’s devotion to keeping her nest up to scratch. However, pride can also make a person arrogant and careless, and can even blind someone to what’s happening until it’s too late. Saffron refused Daniel’s offer to assist in their struggles because she arrogantly believed they could solve their problem without allies or assistance. The result, their Queen being raided and choosing to commit suicide in a brave attempt to take out as many enemies with her as possible. Though, granted, I don’t know if Daniel’s help would’ve mattered in the end. The red ant girl queen could’ve already been dead by the time he and his group arrived.
Additionally, Saffron also acted cocky and arrogant when she first encountered Daemon Warrick, thinking she could easily handle him. We saw for ourselves just how wrong she was! Then again, Saffron’s defeat led her to falling for Daemon, so it might have been a fair trade-off on her end.
Speaking of whom, Daemon himself is a good example of what “strong” is. Yes, he’s an excellent fighter and is certainly brave enough to look a Dark Queen in the face without being afraid, but there’s more to him than Saffron’s ideals about “strong” men.
Some of Daemon’s greatest strengths are his patience, his calm mind, and his ability to resist his darker half. If those were taken away, or if he was weak in any of those categories, all that would remain is his anger and violence. But Daemon’s strong and wise enough to know when to hold back. He knows he’s powerful, but also knows how dangerous his powers and dark side are. He never gloats or tries to dominate someone through cruelty or force. He uses only the force that’s necessary and no more.
Also, unlike Saffron, Daemon isn’t ruled by his pride. He doesn’t criticize others for being “weak.” Daemon probably knows that strength is something flexible, and can matter depending on the situation.
Patience, wisdom, restraint – these strengths of Daemon are just as important as his raw muscle and combat skills. If they weren’t, he’d probably be a Darker One or worse!
Many other strengths in the series aren’t as appreciated as they should be. Luna’s joy, that she shares with others; Max’s humanity, both for his girlfriends and for other people’s suffering; Mika’s spirit, even after all her hardships and sins; Doku’s superb cooking and spirit magic, despite her constant self-criticism; Cindy’s bravery, standing up to danger and even her own mother; and Daniel’s kind heart, his ability to see the good in other people and give them a chance.
When they first met, Saffron called him a “breeding tool” and thought he was lower than dirt, yet Daniel never shouted, never called Saffron a b****, and never said she was arrogant or stupid. He spoke reasonably to her and treated her like an equal, and even wished her safety in their farewell.
In conclusion, Strength is important, but what’s regarded as “strength” depends on the person AND the situation.
From what we’ve seen of Saffron’s nest, their main philosophy is: “If strength doesn’t do the job, then blow it up!” Well, a bomb can clear a pathway and destroy an enemy, but it cannot heal a wound or hide someone from danger.
Seeing as the Breakfell ant girls will apparently join Daniel’s Alliance, it stands to reason that Daniel’s biggest challenge there will be, as Mr. Gordon said, proving that he’s “strong” enough to convince them to join his cause. Besides a physical demonstration, like a fight or a brawl, Daniel will also have to use what alpha witch Charlotte considers to be his greatest strength: Rhetoric.
Hopefully he’ll can push past their pride and find their reason, because the Breakfell ant girls would make excellent allies.
On a final note, I believe the greatest strength of the Alliance will be their differences AND their commitment to building a better world for everyone. That is, assuming all the races can get along. . . .