walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

A Bit More About Sookie and Cataliades

Recently, someone asked me to expand a bit upon this part of my review of _Dead Reckoning_.

"I like the sense that is slowly building over the course of the series that while a lot of supes have low (or no, or not recognizably human) morals, that is not universal, and Cataliades and Diantha actually agree with Sookie on a number of moral points that she can't seem to get across to some of the other people in her life."

(1) Adele, Sookie's grandmother, and Fintan, Sookie's biological fae grandfather, had sex several times while Fintan wore his customary appearance, overlapping with Adele's marriage to the man Sookie believed was her grandfather but who was unable to father children due to measles. Adele wanted children, and while she felt what she was doing was wrong, she really wanted children. Adele's husband never asked any questions. Sookie discovers, through Dermot, Fintan's twin, that Fintan _also_ had sex with Adele while wearing Adele's husband's appearance. This _really bothers_ Sookie, and Dermot can't understand why. He figures she'd already consented. Sookie feels that this kind of deceit was very wrong. Mr. Cataliades agrees that it was wrong. Sookie is articulating (possibly on behalf of the author, but possibly not) an idea of consent that is very contemporary and American. Dermot is articulating an idea of consent that is less contemporary American.

Here are other examples of this consent distinction: Jane and John go out to dinner. They go back to Jane's place. They have sex using condoms (consensual, and Jane didn't bring up the condom thing, John did). After Jane falls deeply asleep, John has sex with Jane without waking Jane up. He does not use a condom. Sookie would think that this is wrong. Dermot might not. You could take this several steps further: John plied her with alcohol to make sure she was deeply asleep. John put something in her food and/or drink so she wouldn't wake up. Etc. Dermot would say (presumably): hey, she consented. She went to bed with him willingly. Sookie would go, no that's wrong. And we're not even into territory of Jane rescinding consent.

The situation might be a whole lot worse, however. There's been a lot of evidence over multiple books that supes plan way ahead when they're trying to get a human to "consent" to something. Fintan wanted women with a particular "spark" which Adele had. Cataliades and Fintan put some of Cataliades' blood in wine for Adele in hopes that the kids would have Cataliades' telepathy. Then they monitored not just the kids, but the grandkids for that telepathy. What's to say that Fintan didn't do something to Adele's husband to make sure he couldn't have kids, to put Adele in such a desperate situation that she would have sex with him just to have kids? Adele was hugely troubled by her decision and once she had the kids she wanted, Fintan must have suspected she'd have less to do with him -- this was a strong motivation for him to get in the habit of wearing her husband's appearance.

If Fintan made the husband unable to father children so that Adele would have sex with Fintan, Adele's "consent" is so compromised it's basically non-existent. We don't know that that happened -- it's not in the books. But there is _nothing_ in the books incompatible with Fintan having done this and Cataliades' may have even suspected this happened and that was his issue with the situation.

So. Enough about consent/fraud issues between Adele and Fintan.

(2) Sookie has become very accustomed to solving certain of her problems, usually but not always involving supernaturals, by engineering blood baths. The supes think this is a completely reasonable way to solve problems, and one of the things they like about Sookie is that she comes up with much better ways to engineer blood baths than they do. She's devious. Sookie does this in order to survive; the books are very clear on this point. She doesn't like what she's doing. It makes it difficult for herself to live with herself and even harder for her to live with other people. Other people either reflect her judgment of herself, which is intolerable, because survival trumps other concerns. Or they can't figure out why she has such a problem with violence -- they expect her to enjoy it in, revel in it, be turned on by it, go looking for more of it whenever possible, etc. Mr. Cataliades' attitude towards violence is closer to Sookie's than it is to many of the other supernaturals in her life. They differ, however, on the appropriate use of telepathy. Mr. Cataliades' is relentlessly practical about survival in a way that Sookie has not yet become; telepathy lets you figure out who's going to do you so you can do them first. Sookie still has a lot of privacy hangups. It would be interesting to see more back-and-forth between them, because I think at a moral level, they are in agreement.

Having done sex and violence, last would probably be appetite/impulse control.

(3) Sookie has other issues with supes: in general, a lot of them are impulsive in a way that Sookie finds repulsive (Amelia would be an extreme example of this behavior). She also perceives them as being very carnal or base or driven by desire. Sookie finds grooming and structure and routine calming; they make her feel better about herself and her world. She also likes participating in social rituals in her small community, and providing service to others. Again, this is an area of low to no overlap with most of the supes -- but Mr. Cataliades and Diantha display a service ethic, an emphasis on routine and control that is conspicuously lacking among supes. To the extent that Cataliades is driven by base desire, it's all about the food. And in this most recent outing, Cataliades is being pursued relentlessly by unknown adversaries, yet he takes a break to simultaneously refuel AND bring Sookie (who he has "sponsored", whatever that might ultimately mean) up to date on some important information that she has finally figured out to ask about. Before that, he meticulously supplied needed protection when an attack on Sookie was imminent.

Here's what I think Cataliades and Sookie have in common, that Sookie does not have in common with many, if, indeed, any of the other supes (or many humans, for that matter) in her life:

Sex should involve informed, ongoing consent and communication.
Violence may be necessary, but it should be avoided where possible and contained when necessary.
Basic needs must be met, but beyond basic needs, our resources should be devoted to serving the community of people we value.

It's quite possible I'm reading _way_ more into the books than is actually there. The interactions between Cataliades and Sookie are brief, even glancing, and are open to multiple interpretations. I look forward to future entries.
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