Simon and his memory.
SPOILERS FOR CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE.
bethaniebooks said: EEEEEEEEEK!!! Hi! Um, I’m like so nervous right now!! I am a HUGE fan of TMI and so is my best friend, we talk about it almost every day…but I have to ask…WHY DID YOU MAKE SIMON LOSE HIS MEMORY?! Me and my friend cried for like a week straight! I just have to know…*sigh*
Simon losing his memory was set up in City of Lost Souls, when Azazel takes a memory from each of Team Good, indicating that demons trade in memories.
Simon lost his memory because though I planned a hopeful and sweet more than bitter ending for TMI, I didn’t think it was an ending that should come entirely without consequence. Consequences are part of the theme of the books, thus the quote from Ted Hughes that opens City of Fallen Angels:
Nothing is free. Everything has to be paid for.
For every profit in one thing, payment in some other thing. For every life, a death. Even your music, of which we have heard so much, that had to be paid for. Your wife was the payment for your music. Hell is now satisfied.
There was no way for Team Good to get out of Edom without paying a huge price. Sebastian’s life isn’t a huge price, because they came there to kill him, so accomplishing what you came there to do, however that might prick you with regrets, isn’t a huge price. They lost Raphael, but that was before the majority of Team Good even got there, and Raphael didn’t come to Edom willingly — he was forced. Being kidnapped and then killed isn’t a consequence for a choice you made.
It was important to me that Team Good be brave and willing to sustain losses to save the world. They chose to go to Edom, knowing they’d probably never come back. They were gifted with a way to come back, but that way had to come at a terrible price. It could have been any of them that volunteered to die — they all did volunteer to die. It could have been Magnus’ life, but since they pretty much forced Magnus to call upon his father in the first place, that’s very uncomfortable. When Team Good forces one of their members to do something they didn’t want to do and the result is that that member dies, Team Good may have to become Team Morally Compromised.
Not to mention I’m not sure it’s something Alec would have survived.
For every profit in one thing, payment in some other thing. They all got out of Edom, even Simon. The payment was Simon’s memories. They could all otherwise have gotten out of Edom with no payment at all, but then they look pretty stupid for having been so worried about going to Edom in the first place as it is clearly a cakewalk where you get to have sex in caves. Everyone should go to the demon realms! They have skiing!
As for why memories?! why Simon?! — well, removing any else’s memories would have meant throwing them out on the streets of a world where they had no way to survive; they’re all Shadowhunters or magical creatures. Simon had a life to go back to. It was a survivable if agonizing compromise. It is also a choice that hits pretty much all of them where it hurts. They’re Shadowhunters. Simon’s not. They should have protected him. They couldn’t. Save the world and lose a piece of your heart; that’s a consequence.
Hi Cassie :) About Simon - I was wondering what exactly your reasoning was behind having Simon become a shadowhunter. In one of your old blog posts (I can’t remember which), you said you thought he “deserved” to become a shadowhunter after fighting alongside them for so long. But I feel like that implies vampires aren’t as good as shadowunters, something Simon and Alec talked about. From what I understood, it wasn’t okay for Alec to think Simon was beneath him simply because he was a vampire, but doesn’t what you stated imply that vampires aren’t on equal standing with shadowhunters? Also, now that Simon is mortal again, on the path to becoming a shadowhunter and also capable of having children, doesn’t that make all of his struggles throughout the series meaningless? I enjoyed watching Simon struggle with his identity and accepting his vampirism (if that’s a word), and I really liked the whole Mark of Cain thing. But if all of that is reversed, what was the point of his struggles? I just feel like his ending was too perfect. But I’m sure you have some reasoning behind it all, and I’d be honored if you’d share it with us. Thanks so much!!
I put these two questions side by side to illustrate the variety of reader response. From the idea that what happened to Simon is unbearable to the idea that what happens to Simon is too perfect, everyone has their different take. And as I believe all personal takes are valid, all I can do is give you my take. It may mean I disagree or we focus on different things but it doesn’t mean I think your reading is invalid. Just wanted to get that our of the way.
. In one of your old blog posts (I can’t remember which), you said you thought he “deserved” to become a shadowhunter after fighting alongside them for so long. But I feel like that implies vampires aren’t as good as shadowunters, something Simon and Alec talked about.
This is extra-book stuff as we’re now discussing my commentary on commentary. :) But I will say I don’t agree here. Simon deserved to become a Shadowhunter because it was something he wanted to be, not because it was something objectively better. Saying someone deserves something they want… not really the same as saying that what they don’t want is beneath them. If Simon had wanted to be a pilot and not a sailor, would that mean the text communicated ‘DAMN ALL SAILORS’?
I enjoyed watching Simon struggle with his identity and accepting his vampirism (if that’s a word), and I really liked the whole Mark of Cain thing. But if all of that is reversed, what was the point of his struggles?
Simon lost the Mark of Cain in City of Lost Souls — traded it away for a weapon from Raziel. In fact, his speaking to Raziel was possibly the most Shadowhuntery thing anyone but Clary has done in TMI! Here is where we’re going to disagree textually (and that’s fine) — I never wrote Simon as accepting his vampirism, purposefully. He always hated it. He hated what happened with Maureen, he hated losing his family, he hated the idea of being in a clan, of living with other vampires. He didn’t have any vampire friends unless you count Raphael and that was always a tetchy relationship during which Raphael repeatedly told Simon that he was a terrible vampire because in fact he was. He was uniquely unsuited to it. The only thing he ever seemed to like about it was biting Isabelle and there are other things he could have done with Isabelle that he probably would have liked as much if not more.
(Lord Montgomery ponders.)
Also, now that Simon is mortal again, on the path to becoming a shadowhunter and also capable of having children, doesn’t that make all of his struggles throughout the series meaningless?
Jace is now free of the heavenly fire, knows who he is, knows the love of his life isn’t his sister, and is on a path to a happy life. Does that make all his struggles meaningless? Why would a happy ending specifically make anyone’s struggles meaningless?
I mean, it could be that I am not understanding the question properly. From my point of view, Simon’s struggles — not wanting to be a vampire, not knowing how to deal with being rejected by his family, being always afraid vampires were going to spring at him for his yummy Daylighter blood — are simply being replaced with a different set of struggles. Simon is now an ex-Downworlder who is going to have to go train to become a Shadowhunter in a world where Shadowhunters, despite the progress made, still hate and distrust Downworlders, and everyone knows who he is. He has to go live in Idris, a place he doesn’t remember. He is also going to have to somehow come to terms with the fact that he no longer remembers a huge portion of his life. He doesn’t remember his childhood properly, or his best friend, or the girl he loves, or himself. He’s going to have to reconstruct an entirely new Simon out of the pieces he has and whatever he gets back. To me that is a much more interesting struggle.
Also, now that Simon is mortal again, on the path to becoming a shadowhunter and also capable of having children
All of these things are good things only if Simon wants them. Who wants to be mortal? I don’t, frankly. Others do. Not everyone would want to be Shadowhunter. Simon luckily does, always has since book one. As for the children thing, who says he wants them or ever will? Not everyone wants children; not everyone has to have children to be happy. (Interesting post here about how difficult it is if you don’t want kids to find any kind of story that reflects your life and wants. “It seems in every other romance there must be a baby-epilogue, or baby-logue, with pregnancy and glowing and 2.5 children in the future. Which books feature heroines and heroes who are not interested in having children, whether it’s a major topic point or not? Which ones did you like best?”) TDA takes place when Simon would be 22, TWP when he would be 25. There’s no reason to think even if he wanted kids he’d have any in that time period or it would impact the story. (Besides, I think everyone assumed he’d wind up with Izzy as a vampire, and then they’d be together, and then they could perfectly well have kids by adopting them or with artificial insemination. Adopted children are your children. When Magnus and Alec adopt, that will be their kid. Sorry, tangential unrelated rant — my best friend has two biological kids, my other best friend’s son is adopted, and I don’t have kids. I get tired of hearing that only one of us has a family that is considered happy or acceptable.)
I don’t think that when struggles are over, they are rendered meaningless. I think that if there is something that feels weird about Simon’s ending, it is that everyone else gets what feels like closure. Simon gets what feels like an opening for more story. And there will be more story — in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and even in TDA. I can see how that would make one feel “this ending is different/strange/why do I feel differently about it than the endings for the other characters?” And sometimes when things feel strange, we struggle to identify why – too happy, too sad, too overdetermined, too unclear? Maybe that explains the range of response to some extent. And also just that readers are always different people. A book is a bit of a kaleidescope – every person who looks in it will see the same glittering crystals, but never in quite exactly the same arrangement.