FAQ Friday: Wouldn’t it have been safer for Persephone to just stay in the Underworld?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

 

*Spoiler warning for Persephone and Daughter of Earth and Sky

A reader wondered why, if Hades and Demeter knew Zeus was still around and after Persephone, did they allow her to return to the living realm in book two?

Remember, Boreas was restricted to a relatively short season, but Zeus could wait around for all eternity. Persephone wanted to hang on to the human life she’d built. She has friends, a job, a family, and a life. And while it’s one thing to step away from that for a few months (December-March) while Boreas was at full strength, it’s quite another to say goodbye forever.

Persephone’s will in this is paramount, because I didn’t want to write a horror story about a teenage girl being forced to spend her life in the land of the dead. It’s one of the first things I changed when I rewrote the myth.

As far as what Hades wants, while other writers have tackled the whole over protective significant other forcing their loved one to stay somewhere safe (and thus destroying their relationship in the process) SO well (Seriously read the linked book. It’s so good), that’s not the story I wanted to tell. Which is why, in book one, Hades explicitly stated that he wouldn’t keep Persephone in the Underworld against her will. That’s a promise he has to honor. He does try to convince her to stay a few times. He just can’t make her.

Demeter on the other hand, would absolutely force her daughter to stay in the Underworld for her safety. For a season. Asking her to say goodbye to her daughter for all time, especially after her daughter nearly died the last time she tried to make that happen, is a bit much. Plus, Demeter’s dealing with a lot of parent guilt in book two. Every move she’s ever made regarding Persephone was for Persephone’s own good, but it backfired. Her daughter hates her for her deception, the events of book one outright would have never happened if Persephone had had an ounce of preparation, the priestess she chose for her daughter has gone rogue, the father she chose for her daughter so she’d have enough power to survive is the very thing threatening her life. Every move she made failed. So while she never shows it (she’s a goddess after all, showing weakness isn’t easy for them), Demeter spends most of book two feeling paralyzed. She knows if she pushes Persephone to stay in the Underworld, she will lose her forever on more than one level. Plus, she can’t force Hades to abide by her will, and Persephone sure isn’t going to go alone with it, so it’s a fight she couldn’t win if she wanted to. Demeter’s smart enough not to pick a losing battle.

Plus, she feels like she’s losing Persephone to Hades already. Her goal for the first third of book two is to keep her daughter out of the Underworld as much as possible. It’s only once the danger becomes explicit that she takes a major step back. She knows if she tries to force Persephone into the Underworld, that Persephone is just mad enough to dig her heels in to spite her. So she doesn’t. And she assumes that is where Persephone is spending most of her time.

At the end of the book, Persephone had every intention of waiting out the danger in the Underworld. But she couldn’t remember her charmed promises compelling her to leave the safety of the Underworld and return to Zeus. The important thing to remember about charm, is that done right, the implanted thoughts  it feels like the charmed person’s idea. So when Persephone irrationally decides to go find Orpheus and fix things, that’s her mind desperately trying to rationalize an obviously bad idea.

 

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