I guess this is applied to all “strong female characters.” You know those female characters who storm on stage and punch out some mouthy sexist dude? In an attempt to make women “equal,” writers are now depicting fictional women as what basically amounts to men with tits. Instead of . . . you know . . . nuanced humans beings who can be weak and strong, utterly emotional or cold and impassive, tough or vulnerable, ugly or beautiful, and everything in-between.
Women are people. I’m tired of us being depicted as anything less in fiction. And I hope that with the Keymasters I depicted them as flawed people. Just people.
Rigg is not a masculine badass “strong female character.” She’s a pragmatic coward. Her strength lies in eventually overcoming her fears. Her other strength is her ability to admit she’s done wrong and apologize.
Morganith is a masculine badass. But she still cries. She still gets sad. She still fucks up. She still gets to be weak and broken and utterly human.
Hari is expected to be the strong leader by Rigg and Morganith, to the point that they sometimes forget she’s just a person too.
Even Arda felt this way. All the Keymasters had something from Arda except for Hari, and here’s why.
It’s implied in the book (in the first chapter, I think) that Arda knew she was going to die and made a few gestures beforehand to say farewell to her friends. She left each of the Keymasters something behind but left nothing for her sister.
Rigg had Arda’s yo-yo, which was a family heirloom, so it seems like she would have given it to Hari, her twin sister. Instead, she gave it to Rigg, with the insistence that she would need it one day.
Morganith’s shotgun was created by Arda and especially designed so that Morganith could use it one-handed since she had a way of constantly losing her mechanical arm in fights.
Hari, meanwhile, had nothing left to her from Arda. She had nothing left to help her from twin sister, which I think says a lot about Arda and how she sees Hari.
First, Hari already had Rivet, the tiny robot her wife left her when they split up. (For the record, Hari is — yes — asexual.)
Second, Hari is the older twin (I think I mentioned that in the book/ it might have been cut), so Arda, like the other Keymasters, looked up to her as someone who was smart and powerful and in control. Even after she was assaulted and the house of cards came down, the other Keymasters still looked up to Hari, especially Rigg, who is so young compared to them.
Arda sees her sibling as someone who doesn’t even need her help. She doesn’t understand how much pressure she has put on Hari to lead and be strong all the time, when Hari is just a frail and vulnerable person like everyone else (as demonstrated through Rigg’s jellybean flashback).
It seems that throughout the novel, Rigg is the only one who realizes this and feels guilty for putting so much pressure on Hari to be strong and in control and always have all the answers. Because Hari is the leader, so the Keymasters always take out their frustrations on her when things go wrong — not because it’s her fault but because they expect so much from her.
Rigg begins to realize how wrong it is that they put pressure on Hari instead of acting like a team.
Morganith, on the other hand, still expects Hari to do everything and hold everything together. It’s evident in the subtle way Morganith always looks to Hari; such as when Morganith gives Hari her money in Coghurst, and when Morganith looks to Hari the second they enter Madame’s Fisheye. Morganith always, literally, looks to Hari for guidance, whether out of habit or simply because she sees her as the leader, it’s what she does.
It would have been interesting to write more about how Rigg and Morganith changed in the wake of Hari’s passing. How did they adapt and react to having no leader? And who took over as leader? Did Morganith step up? Did Rigg? Or did they finally learn to work as a team?
I like to imagine that the two of them learned to work as a team, especially since they suddenly had to raise a baby. And with Lisa booted up again in a new body, things would only get easier for them.
I think Hari’s character arc properly demonstrates how damaging it is to be treated like an invincible pillar of strength instead of having ones human frailty recognized. She was never given a chance to breathe, and so much pressure was on her, that at one point she had a mental breakdown.