Eradication Of A Moral Dilemma Essay, Research Paper
Eradication of a Moral Dilemma
Anyone who has seen a movie or has read a story about vampires is also aware of the horror associated with them. When the word vampire is mentioned, it conjures up the stereotypical, repulsive image of Bella Lugosi, killing and sucking the blood of his prey. Vampires have been viewed as cruel monsters that go on senseless killing rampages. They have been consistently portrayed as the evil villain, but what makes a vampire evil? Kristine Kathryn Rusch s “Children of the Night” uses the many vampire myths and traditions to depict the vampire s violence, while vividly illustrating the consequences of violence as a moral dilemma in society.
Killing a vampire cannot completely be justified. There are moral implications that should not be over looked. In Rusch s story, at one phase in their existence many male vampires have children, so when one of these is killed a child is deprived of its father. Rusch opens the story with the main character Cammie pounding a stake into a vampire s heart, “the vampire roared once arms flailing, long nails scratching the side of the coffin” (Rusch 327). This typifies the traditional resolution of a vampire narrative. In this case it is just the beginning to a vampire story. Rusch also introduces a new perspective, that of the vampire as a parent. When Cammie kills the vampire she is unaware of the vampire s child, Janie. Janie kneels in front of the coffin and whispers, ” Daddy. The airy, pain-filled sound was more plaintive than a wail” and at this moment Cammie realizes her actions (Rusch 327). The vampire that was once looked upon as a blood thirsty monster has taken on a new image, that of a defenseless father. Thus the slaying of a vampire becomes a moral conflict.
Cammie had always looked at her job systematically, “She had always gone in, found the sleeping vampire and murdered it” (Rusch 330). She had never considered that she was killing a father of some child. The little girl forces Cammie to see the consequences of the murder she has committed. An innocent little girl has lost her parent, because of an action that was thought to be right. It is discerned that vampires prey on humans and they must be stopped, but it is also known that some vampires have children of their own, which adds a consequence to a slaying. Regardless of the threat vampires present to humans, the slayer of the vampire is indeed a killer herself.
Vampires can provide their children with the same basic care as a normal parent would. Dr. Eliason described Janie, “She s well fed, well nourished, well cared for” (Rusch 329). After killing Janie s father, Cammie was sent back to the scene of eradication: “The smell ancient blood and decay slapped her, bringing up the familiar hatred which made the killing part of the job so simple” (Rusch 331). She could not believe that a child had been raised in this putrid atmosphere. Then she stepped foot into Janie s room. It was filled with sunlight, and stuffed animals lined the floor and walls. The vampire had made a living environment suitable for his child. He had provided for her like any good parent would have.
This image of a vampires as a good father causes Cammie s guilty conscience to affect over her mood, stability, and elicits sympathy from the other characters. Rusch presents an inner conflict tormenting Cammie. She knows she has to rid the world of vampires, but at what consequence? After having killed Janie s vampire father, Cammie is plagued by disturbing flashbacks. Cammie comments “the night had grown longer. And each night, phantom and dreams about vampire s children” (Rusch 336). These were forgotten memories of Cammie s early encounters with vampires. Cammie s traumatic flashbacks are a typical reaction, not unlike the many cases of war veterans who experience flashbacks of disturbing events and actions that they have encountered in battle.
Cammie confronts Janie to attain understanding and forgiveness. Sitting down across from Janie, Cammie tried to talk to her, but “Janie screamed. She grabbed all of her animals against her and screamed as loud as she could” (Rusch 337). Janie s distress was a normal reaction to the murderer of her father. Janie is taught to fear women, “She hates women. Her father taught her that women are dangerous” and Cammie proved it by killing Janie s father (Rusch 338). Everyone who was part of the eradication is dramatically affected. The harrowing events bring up memories of Cammie s childhood when she had once killed her own vampire father!
However, there is an ironic twist to the vampire father. After he has been a vampire for 30 years he no longer requires the companionship of a child. After first abusing the child, he will eventually rid himself of the child he is fathering. Cammie, through personal experience, is aware of how old vampires deal with children. It is later revealed that she was one of these children and was ultimately forced to kill her father in order to protect her brother, Ben. “She pounded again She had to keep going. She had to. For Ben, if not herself” (Rusch 345). Cammie s role as a slayer is part of her rehabilitation, “Current rehabilitation theory. You can t do anything for parents, but you can save the children” (Rusch 342). Now, even with the knowledge of such eventual child abuse, Cammie decides to end her career as a vampire slayer because she can no longer face the prospect of taking another father from a child.
Rusch uses vampires in a innovative tale to express how there are moral dilemmas and consequence with violence in society. She expresses the moral implications of someone taking a parent from a young child, the consequences that must be faced, and the trauma that the murderer also undergoes. Regardless of how the parent treated the child, a child will usually remember or fabricate loving memories of the parent, and repress the bad experiences. Thus, a confrontation between the child and the parent s murderer may result in even more trauma, by both individuals. This is very different from the clean cut morality of traditional vampire stories. A vampire can be viewed as a variety of characters, from the stereotypical bloodsucking devils to the misunderstood father figure.