Is Persephone brave?

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Persephone is called brave twice in the entirety of the Persephone trilogy, and only once by Hades. But it made quite an impression on the goddess (as I’m sure being called brave by the Lord of the Underworld would.) She immediately denies it, thinks about it for two books, and denies it again.

“You’re strong and brave. More than you know. You stood and fought in Tartarus.”

I shook my head. “I’m not brave. I’m just stupid. When something scary or bad happens, my mind shuts off and I act. Believe me, later, when it has time to process, I’m terrified.”

Their difference of opinion here has to do with the definition of brave. To her, it means not being afraid, which some of my readers agree with. Since Persephone quakes in fear and cries after the fact, to them she’s not brave. That’s a matter of opinion, and is open to reader interpretation. Those readers are not why this is a frequently asked question.

To Hades, being brave means moving forward despite your fear. Which means you can’t possibly be brave in the absence of fear.Persephone  was scared of Pirithous and stabbed him with a pencil, when she stood up against Hades in the clearing, when she stood up to Hades in the Underworld, when she learned self-defense, when she opened her mind on purpose to Boreas’s dreamwalking after Melissa was taken. When she faced Pirithous in the Underworld, and finally when she faced Pirithous in the end. She was scared, and while internally she may have quaked, and while she cried, and shivered, and sometimes whined after the fact, she took her fear and pushed it aside moment by moment, often at the risk of her own life. These aren’t always reactive situations either. She makes plans to do something scary from a place of relative safety and implements them in moments of danger throughout the trilogy.

Many readers agree with Hades’s definition. That’s a matter of opinion and is open to reader interpretation. Those readers are not why this is a frequently asked question.

This is a frequently asked question because Persephone can’t lie, so when she says “I’m not brave,” it’s not false modesty, she absolutely does not believe bravery is one of her traits.

The whole not being able to lie thing gets complicated when the gods start talking in absolutes. She doesn’t say “I don’t think I’m brave.” She says she’s not. Period. And to her, that is true, but her truths don’t dictate other people’s opinions. So reader’s (and Hades’) opinions are still valid here, because she’s not talking about something steeped in fact. It’s not “Does 2 +2 = 4?” It’s “Does that equation look pretty?” A god can answer in an absolute to that question, because to them it either does or doesn’t. That is their truth.

 

 

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