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Jalyn
12-14-2012, 01:18 PM
I've been poking through the old threads and found that in a number of them it is assumed that Whitecloaks are inherently evil, or at the very least bad people. The worst of these was when the basic defense against Perrin's killing the two whitecloaks in eEotW was "but they were whitecloaks, so it's ok."

To be crude about it, bullshit. Children of the Light are as likely to be bad people as any other group. There are those that have actually become darkfriends (Carridan), there are those that are just awful people (Valda, Byar, Asuwana), there are confused and weak (Dain Bornhald), and there are perfectly good people trying to their best in a seriously screwed up world (Niall, Geofrahm Bornhald, Galad.)

Starting from the top of the hierarchy:

Pedron Niall: He was certainly not faultless.
1) He had extreme ambitions. He desperately wanted to be the person that led the world through TG.
2) He was extremely misguided as to the true nature of what was happening. TG was going to be a rehash of the Trolloc Wars and nothing else; obviously the Dragon, the DO breaking out etc. was superstitious rot.

The thing is, Niall was trying to prepare for the enemy that he thought was coming in the best way possible. He knew that he was one of the best field commanders left alive. Concentrating the world's forces under him for a massive trolloc battle is actually not a bad plan for what he THOUGHT was coming. The fact that he was wrong made it hazardous, but it does not make him evil. More, he showed, by his investigating, and then swinging his plans to deal with, the Seanchan, that he could be convinced to deal with what the actual danger was. I think, had Rand been able to get to Niall and show him the actual danger, he would have been capable of realizing that he was wrong and changing his plans again.
As a side note, remember that this was a man that had been corrupted by Fain before we ever got into his head. And yet he was still a remarkably honorable man. He would send false dragonsworn to further inflame Arad Domain - which was already completely screwed, really. But he wouldn't give Morgause to the questioners. In fact, Morgause rather liked him. The one thing that she thought he did to force her - finding those that were going to help her escape and hanging them as DFs - was actually something that did not involve him. (Heck, they really WERE darkfriends!)

Balwer - Not really a "Child," but part of their hierarchal structure, I suppose. I'd love to get into that man's head, but I don't think that we ever have. I find it interesting that he was never able to find anything about the Seanchan until after Niall died, but I haven't seen anything that indicates that he isn't a perfectly decent, if ruthless, man yet.

Valda - Asshole. No reason to suspect that he was a darkfriend, but you don't have to swear to the DO to be an evil murdering rapist son of a bitch. Interestingly, he doesn't seem to be the prototypical fanatical Whitecloak either. He doesn't seem to really care who is or isn't a darkfriend, he just wants power.

Asuwana - Creepy asshole. Not a rapist like Valda, just way creepier. He does fit the fanatical Whitecloak stereotype to a T.
You know, I'd really like to get into the head, or at least SEE another questioner besides the fanatical head and the DF Carridan. I would assume that RJ would have had at least SOMEONE that wasn't horrific in that group. Every other group besides the Foresaken has had good people - even DFs!(Ingtar, Verin)

Geofrham Bornhald – He is the perfect example, really. Bornhald Sr was in Andor in order to provide a Whitecloak presence for the presentation of the captured Logain to Morgause and then "escort" them to the WT for gentling. He wasn't invading Andor, he wasn't hunting DFs in the night. He was on a diplomatic mission. After Egwene and Perrin were captured, he questioned them, firmly but fairly gently. He didn't believe their story, but he didn't torture them. (Though he either ignored or missed Byar's mistreatment.)
Do you remember what Perrin, Elyas and Egwene went through trying to get to that Stedding? The freaking murderous and HUGE murders of ravens that were searching the area? Is there some reason to believe that this Whitecloak contingent didn't go through the very same thing on their way to the stedding? We DO forgive Perrin for what happened that night (though I don't think he's really forgiven himself) because he didn't have enough control of himself or the bond to Hopper to stop what was happening. Had he been able to tell Hopper to run instead of attack, the situation may have been very, very different. At the same time, we need to recognize that the Whitecloaks in this situation were probably ALSO freaked out, some of them were dying (Elyas and other wolves were attacking elsewhere) and they were trying to handle the situation as well. Both sides were put in a bad situation and it had tragic results. Bornhald planning on executing Perrin for murder was perfectly reasonable from his standpoint.
So what's the next thing that happens? His entire encampment is attacked by Aes Sedai and the captives are taken from him by force. More of his men are hurt. Horses are stolen. Again, we see this all from our hero’s standpoint and think it's entirely justified. Bornhald has no reason to think so. Even if Perrin had just been misguided and scared when he killed his men, he now has confirmation that this is a bigger situation than he realized at first. This lone murderer is important enough for other DFs to come rescue him!
The next time we really see Bornhald Sr. is on Toman Head. Here we really get to the moral center of the man. He’s a solder, and he’s trying to follow orders. More and more he finds those orders abhorrent. Note that he never personally does things that he finds awful, he’s coming across what others have done, knowing that they were done by those “in charge” of him and finds that awful enough to begin questioning his orders. He’s also seeing the news out of Falme and recognizes that THERE is where the real threat is at this time. His response? He ignores orders and follows his conscience to go battle the Seanchan. This is what only a truly good man would do. He moves from a relatively safe course of action to one that he knows will get him killed. He does this against orders, so if he survives, he’s going to be punished. And he doesn’t do it for glory, he does it because it is right.
He makes two mistakes here 1) he assumes that that important DF that he met in Andor must have something to do with it. Really, from his viewpoint, this is fairly reasonable. 2) He sent bloody BYAR to bring news of what happened. He KNEW that Byar was unstable. He knew that back in tEotW. This is not only a horrendous mistake, I also just don’t understand it. There had to be men that he could have pulled aside that would have given a reasonable rendition of events to headquarters rather than a fanatic that he knew could not be objective about events.

Dain Bornhald – Dain just makes me incredibly sad. I think that he was, at one point, a brash but good man. The combination of Byar, Fain, his dad’s bizarre death and the world going insane broke him completely.
We first see him in Baerlon, he’s brash, he assumes that anyone that stands up to a Whitecloak is obviously a DF and he’s strutting around the city like they own it. Not a good start, I’ll admit.
The next time we see him is in the TR, where everything has gone to hell. First, he doesn’t understand why the LCC has sent him here. Then Byar informs him that the man that personally murdered his father comes from this area. He’s saddled with a completely bizarre man that he’s been told to obey. This man turns out to be a murderer and seems to have nothing in common with the Whitecloaks – men who follow him either end up dead or seem corrupted. (Note that he spends enough time with Fain that some of the corruption probably affected him as well.) Finally, trollocs start attacking in force.
I’m not going to defend anything that Bornhald does in the TR. (Except that I think he was trying, at least at first, to actually defend people from the trollocs.) I wonder if the point where he actually just broke was when he covered up the murders of the Aybaras. We never got to see in his head before he had done that. I’m reasonably sure that that’s when he started drinking, though not when he became an actual alcoholic.
I’m trying to think of another person that was just broken by everything that’s happened. Rand came close, but brought himself from the edge. Gawain has been close. The brotherless are maybe close, though at least some of them seemed to be coming back. There have to be tons of them – people that just could not handle the world as it is now and retreat into alcohol and try to hammer this strange world into what they understand.
We’re not done with Bornhald. Saving Perrin in ToM is not his high point, I think. He still needs to tell Perrin what actually happened to his family. I rather expect this to come either when he breaks completely and tries to kill him or in sacrificing himself to save Perrin. The amazing part of this character is that I don’t know which way it will go.

Byar – He is actually MORE creepy than Asunawa. I actually wonder if he was the entirety of the reason that the Whitecloaks “smelled wrong” to the wolves. We know that Bornhald was not an evil man. We didn’t see enough of any other individual in the group to know them. We do know Byar was pretty much insane before he ever met Perrin. As far as I can figure, he was basically SL made flesh – so long as you’re fighting “the DO” anything you do is reasonable. I took a quick look to see if there was anything said in that first meeting to indicate what the hell happened to Byar to make him this way and didn’t see anything.

Trom – Interestingly, he was the one that caught Paitr and the other DFs in Amadicia (the ones that were supposed to “help” Morgause escape.) More importantly, he’s one of the three that initially stood with Galad when he took down Valda. This would be a great reference, except the other two were Bornhald and Byar. He was actually quite active in raising Galad to leadership – both after the fight with Valda (when he declared that killing the LCC made him LCC) and after Galad was taken by the Questioners. He’s mentioned fairly often, he looks to be one that Galad relies on, but I think I need a better read than going back through the quotes looking for his name to get a feel for him. From those, he seems a pretty good guy, but from just those Bornhald and Byar don’t look bad either!

Galad – I have loved getting inside his head in the last few books. Before that point, all we really got of him was Elayne’s thoughts about him. And that he was very, very pretty.
Now that we’ve gotten to know him as a person rather than a not-brother, I find that I really like him. He’s one of the people that is learning to deal with the world that really exists. His breaking point was finding out that his step-mother had been abused but his actions afterward were to figure out how to fight the actual evils that he saw around him – the Seanchan and TG, whichever seemed more necessary. He actually read the creeds that the Whitecloaks were based on and understood them. As a note, I think that the hair splitting about channelers being corrupted by the power rather than being inherently evil was necessary for him to join.
His actions with Perrin were reasonable, if wary, especially given the information that he had at hand. And, given charge of Perrin’s sentence, he perfectly reasonably accepted the “after TG” stipulation. I think spending time with Morgause (and maybe even Elayne, now that she’s not being a bitch about him) will be good for him. I think, though, that he has been learning even before she got there that sometimes you can’t do the immediate right thing but hold off to do the ultimately right thing – even worse, for someone with a B/W viewpoint, sometimes there are multiple right things or no right things and you have to choose. I think his connection to Berelain may give us reason to think that he’ll live long enough to really get there. 

Finally, I want to point to the Whitecloaks reaction when Galad was raised:
"We'll see what the Children have to say on the matter," Trom replied, grinning widely, "when you ask them to follow us to Tarmon Gai'don to fight alongside the witches." Men began slapping their shoulders again, harder than they had for his victory. At first it was only a few, then more joined in, until every man including Trom was signaling approval. Every man but Kashgar, that was. Making a deep bow, the Saldaean held out the scabbarded heron-mark blade with both hands.

Weird Harold
12-14-2012, 02:46 PM
I've been poking through the old threads and found that in a number of them it is assumed that Whitecloaks are inherently evil, or at the very least bad people.
...

Defending the Whitecloaks is a bit like defending the Spanish Inquisition or Fundamentalists of any persuasion(Christian, Islamic, or other.)

Lost One
12-14-2012, 02:51 PM
Trom was with Galad in Somara, either the same rank or slightly senior/more experienced WC. As Galad was trying to convince Elayne to Go to Caemlyn, Trom approached and asked to be introduced, to which Galad replied, I don't think that they want to know us.. or something similar

Jalyn
12-14-2012, 02:55 PM
Defending the Whitecloaks is a bit like defending the Spanish Inquisition or Fundamentalists of any persuasion(Christian, Islamic, or other.)

Except that is my very point. All factions are made up of individuals and individual people are good, bad or indifferent. Once you've determined to look at them only as a group, you've become a zealot yourself.

Trom was with Galad in Somara, either the same rank or slightly senior/more experienced WC. As Galad was trying to convince Elayne to Go to Caemlyn, Trom approached and asked to be introduced, to which Galad replied, I don't think that they want to know us.. or something similar

Yeah, I saw it in the quotes, there just wasn't anything there that spoke to his character. He was just some buddy of Galad's.

connabard
12-14-2012, 03:26 PM
Every single Whitecloak that we've seen, aside from Galad, has been more than willing to kill or torture innocents for their "cause"
That's evil, dude.
"The path to hell is paved with good intentions" blah blah blah
Just because they felt they were doing the right thing doesn't mean they were, nor does it mean they should be absolved of their sins.

Jalyn
12-14-2012, 03:31 PM
Every single Whitecloak that we've seen, aside from Galad, has been more than willing to kill or torture innocents for their "cause"
That's evil, dude.
"The path to hell is paved with good intentions" blah blah blah
Just because they felt they were doing the right thing doesn't mean they were, nor does it mean they should be absolved of their sins.

Yep, chopping off a man's hand and telling him and his friends that if they don't talk they'll be left without hands OR feet as beggars is never, ever permissable.

connabard
12-14-2012, 03:32 PM
Yep, chopping off a man's hand and telling him and his friends that if they don't talk they'll be left without hands OR feet as beggars is never, ever permissable.

I never implied it was.

Jalyn
12-14-2012, 03:45 PM
I never implied it was.

I suppose that's consistent. Though it rather implies that there isn't anyone in this story that can possibly measure up morally. Everyone has made shortcuts or had lapses in judgement that have made them do the wrong thing. For the "good people," these decisions haunt them.
Perrin has trouble living with the fact that he killed those two whitecloaks ages ago. His treatment of the Shaido prisoners just about breaks him entirely.
Hell, Dain Bornhald became an alcoholic waste over what happened in the TR.
Rand may have finally learned that you can't use what you've done to make yourself do more horrific things at each step without becoming a monster.
Mat... might actually be fairly "pure" in this regard. He's killed in battle, but never prolonged the death.
Galad beats himself up because ONE of the reasons that he killed Valda turned out to not be true.


My entire point is that these are all individual people that are making choices and then living, or not, with them. Separating them into groups to decide who the good ones are and who the bad ones are makes a person no better than, well, Asuwana.

connabard
12-14-2012, 03:50 PM
I suppose that's consistent. Though it rather implies that there isn't anyone in this story that can possibly measure up morally. Everyone has made shortcuts or had lapses in judgement that have made them do the wrong thing. For the "good people," these decisions haunt them.
Perrin has trouble living with the fact that he killed those two whitecloaks ages ago. His treatment of the Shaido prisoners just about breaks him entirely.
Hell, Dain Bornhald became an alcoholic waste over what happened in the TR.
Rand may have finally learned that you can't use what you've done to make yourself do more horrific things at each step without becoming a monster.
Mat... might actually be fairly "pure" in this regard. He's killed in battle, but never prolonged the death.
Galad beats himself up because ONE of the reasons that he killed Valda turned out to not be true.


My entire point is that these are all individual people that are making choices and then living, or not, with them. Separating them into groups to decide who the good ones are and who the bad ones are makes a person no better than, well, Asuwana.

And none of them should have their sins absolved. But it's also what I like about the main characters. A main character that is so morally good he surpasses Jesus is boring, but one like Perrin, who is fully willing to abandon everything for Faile (height of selfishness) and dismember people, it's quite refreshing.

That all being said, the circumstances in which a lot of the main characters have done morally questionable things differ greatly from the circumstances of most Whitecloaks.

Jalyn
12-14-2012, 04:04 PM
And none of them should have their sins absolved. But it's also what I like about the main characters. A main character that is so morally good he surpasses Jesus is boring, but one like Perrin, who is fully willing to abandon everything for Faile (height of selfishness) and dismember people, it's quite refreshing.

That all being said, the circumstances in which a lot of the main characters have done morally questionable things differ greatly from the circumstances of most Whitecloaks.

You don't know most Whitecloaks like you know our main characters. Of the ones that we've actually gotten to know, most of them found the questioners methods distasteful at the very least. Did you really go through the listing above and the individual members rather than just thinking of them as a group?
The only ones that I can remember having a POV are:

Carridan - darkfriend
Geofram Bornhald - complicated, but certainly not evil. He despised the questioners and hated having to answer to them. (And ultimately revolted against it.)
Byar - bloody insane (but we did get his POV as he left Falme)
Dain Bornhald - has lost his bloody mind over things that he covered up for someone else doing
Pedron Niall - doesn't appear to dismiss torture out of hand, but absolutely refused to allow it with Morgause (and it ultimately killed him)
Galad - enough said

Valda may have been in a prologue - and he was an ass

Of these, the only ones that considered torture fine and dandy are Byar, Carridan & Valda. And, honestly, we spent the most time with the Bornhalds - both fairly complex people, neither of which tortured people out of hand, one of whom is so broken that I pity him.

GonzoTheGreat
12-15-2012, 03:51 AM
Only when they themselves got attacked by Trollocs did the Whitecloaks actually try to kill them. In the TR campaign, Whitecloaks now and then killed Trollocs. But that may very well have been a matter of patrols having to fight for their lives, rather than deliberately hunting Shadowspawn. And when the big attack on Emond's Field came, the Children were content to sit on the sidelines, waiting for a chance to bugger out. Neither then nor later did any of those Whitecloaks decide that fighting the Shadow was worth ignoring orders.

Weird Harold
12-15-2012, 04:13 AM
Except that is my very point. All factions are made up of individuals and individual people are good, bad or indifferent. Once you've determined to look at them only as a group, you've become a zealot yourself.

Yes, every group is made up of individuals, but some groups attract certain types of individuals, while other groups attract an entirely different set of individual characteristics.

Treating everyone you meet as an individual without regard to known associations is a good way to find your self riding a dunking chair to wet you down so that you last longer after they've proven you're a witch. :rolleyes:

Jalyn
12-15-2012, 11:41 AM
Yes, every group is made up of individuals, but some groups attract certain types of individuals, while other groups attract an entirely different set of individual characteristics.

Treating everyone you meet as an individual without regard to known associations is a good way to find your self riding a dunking chair to wet you down so that you last longer after they've proven you're a witch. :rolleyes:

Of course, and it makes sense for the characters to be wary and cautious (though not murderous) when they meet a whitecloak until they know the person. We're outside of the story though, we can look at the individuals and, as I've noted before, individual whitecloaks often don't suck.

GonzoTheGreat
12-15-2012, 12:12 PM
Well, Dain Bornhald decides to cover up child murder. I would say that disqualifies him from being an "all right guy".
Byar – He is actually MORE creepy than Asunawa. I actually wonder if he was the entirety of the reason that the Whitecloaks “smelled wrong” to the wolves.
Not according to Perrin:
The wolves' wariness had made it hard to separate himself from them. He remembered the smell of fear on Egwene, the way he fumbled with Bela's saddle as he cinched it. And he remembered hundreds of men who smelled wrong. Like the Whitecloaks in the pavilion. They smelled like sick wolves who snapped at anything that got too close.

And Perrin isn't the only one who senses it:
"I do not like this, Perrin Aybara," Edarra said, looking from side to side. "These Children have a sense of wrongness about them."
Basically, the Whitecloaks are a sort of Spanish Inquisition without the constraints imposed by the Spanish Crown and the RCC. I don't think that would really improve matters, but opinions can differ, of course.

Jalyn
12-15-2012, 12:42 PM
Well, Dain Bornhald decides to cover up child murder. I would say that disqualifies him from being an "all right guy".


And I'm pretty sure that's why he's so completely broken, which was included in my analysis of him in the OP.

Thanks for the quotes on smell of wrongness. Unfortunately, Perrin wast smelling people on his own when he was captured tEotW, so I can't get a handle on how Geofram Bornhald smelled to him. Given that he's my first example of a good whitecloak, that would be helpful.

Weird Harold
12-16-2012, 04:38 AM
We're outside of the story though, we can look at the individuals and, as I've noted before, individual whitecloaks often don't suck.

You're basing your defense on five or six anomalies instead of the 20 or 30 thousand whitecloaks their reputation is built upon.

Even if we restrict our assessment on those
whitecloaks who appear onscreen, there are more than double the bullies and bigots than there are "good whitecloaks."