A Pirate's Resources

Light and Dark

Exercise 14 :: The Line Between Light and Dark :: Things aren't always what they seem

Just as the characters in a story can have different takes on a specific value, each one responding in a different way, they will also all have different responses to the Act of Villainy. For all characters, the AoV becomes a dividing line that separates them into two different sides. We call this the Line between Light and Dark. On the Light side are the group of characters who consider the AoV as a problem to be liquidated (resolved). On the Dark side are the group of characters who consider the AoV to be a good thing, something they will support and promote (maybe even cause).

One thing to help your student understand is that while many times it is the “good” characters that are on the side of Light, and “bad” characters who are on the side of Dark, the real way to determine whether they are on the light or dark side is what their perspective is on the the AoV. A good example of this is Shrek - he is an ogre (traditionally a “bad” character) who is against the AoV (Farquad’s putting all the fairytale characters into his swamp) (disclaimer: that was just one simple AoV in this story - there are bigger and more significant ones, but that one made my point). Another good example of this “confusion” of a bad character being on the side of
light is Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. Throughout the series, he appears to be a bad character with evil intent. It is only in hindsight that he is revealed to have been on the side of Light, seeking to actively liquidate the AoV. Here’s a generic example: the AoV is that someone stole a huge and costly diamond ring. The detectives want to find it (they are clearly good, clearly on the side of light). There is also a petty thief (a “bad” character) who swears and drinks and is known to steal whenever he can. But he hears that there is a reward for whoever returns the ring. So he manages to find it and steal lit back, and bring it to the detectives, and collects his reward. Though he was a “bad” character, and acting purely out of selfish motives, he is on the side of light because he wanted to resolve the AoV.

Of course, he’s the perfect example of how a character isn’t just pure
light or dark, but can be in the shadows. This petty thief if really in the light shadows, close to the diving line, but he is on the side of light. The one who stole the diamond in the first place would be pure dark. Make sure you student recognizes these distinctions, because a good story has characters that fall in different places on the line, bringing balance and interest to the story.

In Real Life :: this is so very true in our real lives, in our real selves. Sometimes, we want and actively pursue liquidating the AoVs in our life and the lives of those around us. Sometimes we cause the AoV, and are on the side of dark. Most often, we are somewhere in the shadows. Being able to understand and recognize this gives us eyes to see ourselves and others more clearly - and sometimes, it’s the impetus to both seeking to change and to giving grace.

Finding it in the Story :: Where last chapter the element was pretty obvious, in this one, it is more subtle, until you get to page 158. But think about the Gran Brintish vs the Captain - how does each side view monkey slavery? Or think about how the different monkeys view eating bananas vs going after the treasure. Or obeying the captain vs doing what they want (this was in the chapter about swabbing the deck). Challenge your student to look back and then to pay attention moving forward, and keep looking for areas of light and dark. Also pay close attention to the variations of light and dark - how most monkeys are not pure dark or pure light. Ask your student how Scurvy Spat (both as the written character and as themselves) feels about certain things that happen in the story - they will be on the scale between light, light shadows, the dark shadows, and dark.