Red Dead Redemption changed how I viewed my father and helped me accept his passing.
All throughout Red Dead Redemption 1 and 2 we are constantly reminded of fatherhood and role of male role models in the lives of young men. We love Arthur and John so much because they give us an inner look into what masculinity and brotherhood actually is, they are both extremely well rounded characters. They represent the "ideal man", flawed, hard working and devoted to higher a higher cause.(However questionable that cause may be). In essence they represent what we see our fathers as, even if it is true or not.
That means we ourselves are represented by someone in this story as well but who? Ask yourself this, who are you more like: John, Arthur, or Jack?
We are suppose to be represented by Jack, all throughout both games we are reminded of Jacks tense relationship with his father and his complicated relationship with masculinity. Jack is supposed to be "us" the modern man.
Throughout the games we see Jack express his creativity/interest in writing as well as his interest in science and technological innovations. We see him at the end of RDR2 struggle with life on the farm and that one day he may have to kill the animals in his care. Jacks struggle with masculinity and wanting to prove himself shows up multiple times as well (I'm thinking of John trying to teach him to shoot and Jack's failed bear hunt).
So why do some of us end up hating Jack? Because his character gives us a view into our own relationships with our fathers, the struggle to fill societal expectations while still grappling with his own internal feelings. We see him go from a caring young man to a callous killer, his emotions repressed and a feeling of disconnect with the world. Sadly we see also indications Jack may be severely depressed as well.
At the end of Red Dead Redemption where do we find him? Alone and trying to fulfill his own personal mission, much like how many of us feel going into the adult world whether that be literally or metaphorically.
We want Jack to be like his father just like we want to be like our fathers. To take the lessons they have taught us and be able to make them proud at the same time. However many of us have been raised to suppress our emotions and taught to abide by what is and isn't okay for a man, what a man should and shouldn't do.
Whenever my father passed away (coincidentally he was also named John), I realized that we may not be able to live up to the all of the expectations of our fathers but we can still succeed and thrive, the one thing all fathers want their children to do. It made me realize that being a man isnt set in stone and will differ from person to person. We need to find out what being a man is on our own while still accepting that much like our fathers, we can only ever try our best.
Thanks for your time guys, I wanted to share my experience and hope to hear your thoughts.
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© Post "How RDR/RDR2 helped me accept the loss of my father and made me rethink my definition of what a man is. (Spoilers)" for game Red Dead Redemption 2.
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