O Death, Where is Thy Sting?


“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians xv. 55). The past week has brought death to the forefront of all our minds: the death of 26 innocents, children and teachers, at the hands of a disturbed individual has made our society question many aspects of our lives.

I think the reason we’re questioning, other than that we don’t understand the motivation of the individual murderer, is that we don’t know what happens after death.  “Death is a part of life” is a truism spoken by many, but it doesn’t lessen the pain of losing a loved one.  It doesn’t repair the “boy [and girl]-sized hole[s] in the world” (Chris Cleave). The truism hangs over our heads like a guillotine blade, ready to drop at any second.  “You will know neither the day nor the hour.”

With all of the emotions associated with death, with all the fear and attempts to stop death from happening through age-preventing treatments, I have to question how Death is becoming a character to be loved in a few series I’ve read recently.  Unlike in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Death is not a party animal. Death is a seducer; death is a lover. Death lures heroines with special abilities away from the worlds they know into a world of darkness. In the Alex Craft “Grave” novels, the entity known as “Death” (a soul-collector) has been a life-long friend of Alex, our protagonist.  As the books progress, Death becomes more amorous toward Alex and she responds. She even swaps her life essence with him, becoming slightly immortal while he becomes slightly mortal.

Now, I don’t have a major issue with the novels by Kalayna Price. I actually enjoyed them.  I’m just very concerned about portraying “Death” so favorably.  I worry that there are people who are depressed, sad, lonely, down-trodden, or bullied who would rather seek to “shuffle off their mortal coil” than face their issues.  I worry that they might view the actual, physical death as this fictional lover.

Similarly, in novels like Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse novels (and plenty others), the heroine seems to seek out death.  Bella is bored with her life (does she even make an effort to live it?) so when Edward enters it, she’s more than entranced by this Spectre of Death.  She even begs him to kill her so that they can be together for eternity.  Suicide by vampire.   Anyone else disturbed by that?

Yes, I get that vampires are sexy. Yes, I get that it’s fantasy.  But it’s not a fantasy that there are teenagers all over the world who are depressed and unhappy with what life has given them.  It’s not a fantasy that there are people who have their teeth sharpened into fangs so that they can bite others.  It’s not a fantasy that there are people who will drink human blood because they think they’re vampires.  It’s not a fantasy that there is a whole sub-culture which has grown up around the idea of supernatural beings (vampires, werewolves, witches {not Wiccans} ) living among us.

The problem is that we’ve become a society that worships death (or fantastical death-bringers) even while decrying and defaming those who bring actual death.  While I appreciate the creativity of portraying Death as an entity deserving of compassion, I have a very bad feeling that it’s not a good idea to make Death into a hero.

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About Jeannie

NYC born and raised. Bibliophile and ailurophile. Aspiring writer and singer of karaoke masterpieces. Humongous fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. 2013 Reading Challenge Jeannie has read 77 books toward her goal of 100 books. hide 77 of 100 (77%) view books
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