Declaration of Interdependence

At some point in my K-12 education – maybe my high school health class? – they taught us that there are three stages of maturity.

  1. Dependence
  2. Independence
  3. Interdependence

The idea is that you start as a child, depending on someone else for all your needs. As you get older, you learn to provide for yourself. The last stage of maturity is to become part of a larger community or team and accept the idea of give-and-take.

Like all psychological models, it’s an oversimplification. In particular, I imagine many people go straight from #1 to #3. But it’s an interesting idea.

I was thinking about this yesterday as a kind of rough guide for helping me figure out my character arcs in Crane Girl. And it occurred to me that the independence phase can be further subdivided.

  1. Dependence
  2. Independence – caring for self
  3. Independence – caring for others
  4. Interdependence

Or, to use a metaphor I just made up: wolf pup, lone wolf, wolf mother (hunting alone), wolf mother (hunting in a pack).

I suggested this to Betsy, and she said there can be a fifth step, too: a return to dependency at the end of life. Good point, and something we might not like to think about.

Still working out precisely how all this applies to character development in the novel. We’ll see how it goes.

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2 responses to “Declaration of Interdependence

  1. Interesting idea. I agree that some people go right from #1 to #3, especially these days in this country when it’s become more common for people to go to college and then move back home until they move to marriage or cohabiting (or I guess the shift is that this is becoming more common for men — there has always been a phenomenon, as with my mother, when women only get to real independence when they outlive their husbands).

    As I say, interesting. It does seem that some people get to “Independence – caring for self” and just stay there. That may be more true in fiction than in life, though — it’s a quick way to establish a “villain” character, though not usually a very interesting one.

    • Good point about villains. The stereotypical villain is: nobody cares about him (or her), and he doesn’t care about anyone. And that can work, as with Sauron, for instance. But some of the most interesting villains (Azula in Avatar, Kingpin in the Daredevil TV show, the Mayor in Buffy) really do need, want, love, or care for other people, whether they realize it or not.

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