(Current working title: Stop making drafts and publish already)
Warning: Spoilers for the ending of the first book of the The Young Elites series. Spoilers and references to the ending and middle of Tokyo Ghoul:Re which is a manga so… don’t like don’t read.
In modern young adult media, martyrs are seen as heroes and rarely do we see them ever do anything except for the “greater good”. Whether or not this is shown in their heroic acts of saving civilians ranging to sacrificing their own lives to save the world, martyrs are generally looked up to as role models. Yet in The Young Elites by Marie Lu, being a martyr clearly doesn’t make you a better person, yet not acting doesn’t either. Teren and Adelina presents this theme better than anyone else in this series. Both of them sank further into darkness by the end of the book, both being selfishly selfless, yet one still clings on by a sliver of hope.
Teren is introduced very early on as a character who is evil to no ends. “It doesn’t seem right or kind, I know- it seems cruel, but it must be done” (Lu, 262) Yet later in the story, we are shown his point of view. We see how he was helplessly enraptured by Giulietta and his brainwashing into hurting himself. This is most likely due to the neglect he felt when he became a malfetto. So when Giulietta gave him a purpose- to eradicate all malfettos- Teren clung to her, worshipping her like a god. Essentially, Giulietta twisted his already messed up psyche to make him despise himself and everyone like him and be willing to do anything to achieve his goal, making him a martyr.
So far in the series, there is no other person that has an unhealthier lifestyle then Teren. Using his powers to heal himself, he would rip himself apart and then let his powers stitch himself back together. Which nicely segments to my connection. Kishou Arima is the grim reaper of the CCG. Everyone knows his name. He is almost treated as a noble by the general public, very much like Teren, who does hold a position of power as the lead Inquisitor. Yet during his battle with Ken, he was incapacitated by his own student. Having nothing left to loose, the grim reaper reveals a shocking secret, he isn’t human, at least not entirely. The Washuu clan bred certain individuals together to make a stronger human, yet the human, or half human, will have a shorter lifespan, if they do not consume human flesh. The “children of the garden” are generally neglected unless they showed extreme battle prowess. Therefore, when a young Eto met with Arima, he was easily manipulated into working with her, becoming the One Eyed King. Sound familiar? While Arima’s life did not go downhill from meeting Eto, his situation was already rock bottom so he focused on his goals to pass on his legacy. Yet ultimately, Kaneki was not fit for King as Arima acted too rashly and Kaneki’s indecisions made him a terrible leader so here is another example of a character who became a martyr for a cause they believed to be responsible for, and failed.
On the other hand, Adelina is quite the selfish character, lashing out at her sister for telling the authorities even though it was the only option for her at the time. Adelina’s selfishness lead to her own downfall. Most of the things she did for herself and her sister. This is exactly where Adelina’s flaw is stabilized. She had someone to believe in and she destroy her future for her sister. Adelina descended into madness. But she also learns by the end to rely on her sister.
I guess what I was trying to say is that for the most part, giving is an essential part of every relationship. But to give and give without taking or questioning if what you’re doing is right is definitely not the best choice. Adelina and Teren were polar opposites at the beginning of the story, yet Adelina, by the end, found a slight stability in her sister while Teren descended into darkness. “But tonight, we stay where we are, holding on, lost in the dark.”