Welcome to Day Seven of the A to Z Challenge. For this year’s challenge, I’ll be examining different types of characters that can be found in international fiction. Today I’m looking at guilty guides.
Guilty guides have an underlying guilt complex and a self-perception of being fundamentally damaged. Despite this crippling view, they guide others into feats that would be impossible to experience without them.
The characteristics common to this character type are a deep sense of remorse and the ability to guide others into the unknown.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Inception, A Star is Born and Shoplifters (万引き家族).
Haunted by Guilt
One of the clearest examples of a guilty haunting can be found in Inception. Cobb is haunted by his wife’s death to such a degree that she becomes the villain in his subconscious. In other cases, guilt can drown the character in addiction like Jackson Main in A Star is Born.
Despite these characters’ burdens, they help others navigate, occasionally, what they have problems steering through themselves. The guidance could be leading a team on a seemingly impossible mission, like Cobb, helping a formerly abused child understand true love, like Nobuyo Shibata in Shoplifters, or helping a character steer through a new profession like Jackson Maine.
Other examples of guilty guides are Shug Avery from the Color Purple, the psychic from “Spectral Evidence,” and Jamie McAllan from Mudbound.