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