Unhitched chapter notes …
There are so many ways to be a victim! This chapter focused on Hopper as he faces his victim mentality head on!
So let’s talk about what the hell victim mentality is.
Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others and is primarily developed by family members and situations during childhood. Similarly, criminals often engage in victim thinking, believing themselves to be moral and engaging in crime only as a reaction to an immoral world and furthermore feeling that police are unfairly singling them out for persecution.
So Hopper has seen himself as a victim pretty much through the entire first half of this story. That all gets challenged in this chapter thusly:
I am a victim of my father.
I didn’t want to forget [my mother], because according to my father’s brief, drunken ramblings, she was greater than the heavens and the earth combined. She had a chair at the table that never moved. I didn’t dare use it to rummage through the higher cupboards. I feared the wrath he’d bring down on me for disturbing the dead.
What I do remember, is that he didn’t ask me once for money from the cigar-box under my bed, even though he knew it was there and was often desperate. I offered sometimes, and he took it, but he never stole a penny from my “get the hell out of Louisiana” fund.
I am a victim of my childhood circumstances.
“I guarantee they’re a hell of a lot better than any shit that’s ever graced this table,” I scoff. “Cereal, bologna, tomato soup for a decade, and the rationing – it didn’t seem bad at the time, but now –,” I trail off with a grimace. “Once a week, I’d come home from school and he’d have a stack of cans on the counter and a loaf of bread waiting for me,” I say, shaking my head at the memory. “My neighbor up the road would take pity on me and give me food from her garden in the summer.
The truth is that my father always came back to me. Sometimes he was late, or the day bled into the night and maybe the next; but he did come home. He may have been drunk, or had a split lip, or was yelling about assholes stealing his last nickel, but he was here.
I am a victim of my mind’s inability to cope.
Why can’t I cope with life? I feel lucid right now, but I also feel like I could crumble at any moment. I feel unstable, and it’s not normal.
My ego will have to find something else to worry about, because human contact is currently winning out over pride.
I am a victim of Butcher.
I grit my teeth and his eyes burrow into mine like a rat. He’s waiting for my disgusted scoff or my temper to flare so he can be right. To him I’m just a twitchy, touchy, little boy getting doted on with my favorite meal, the comfort of his warm hands, and my childhood bed.
If it wasn’t for his constant goading of me, I may actually feel bad for him. He is lonely and desperate, but he’s also a big boy, and he certainly likes to make his bed in odd places, like in my childhood room while I’m trying to come to terms with a whole host of grief-stricken realities.
This is not a time for games. This is not an appropriate situation to initiate a power struggle with me. If he’s going to start shit, I will gladly finish it.
This internal struggle is very real and very exhausting, but eventually, he overcomes the victim mentality. He may go overboard, however, when he senses Butcher “taking advantage of him.” He reacts by reaching for a weapon which sets off a chain of intense dialog between he and Hannibal where they both reveal their “distrust” in the other.
Now Hopper is still clearly feeling hesitant around Butcher – he won’t trust him, he’s nervous, he’s intimidated by him, but Butcher’s behavior isn’t really that aggressive. Hopper never questions Butcher’s motives for doing anything as being genuinely good, because he won’t stop seeing Butcher as the villain. This is all over Hannibal too, but I’m going to stay with Unhitched for now.
Butcher disarmed Hopper, and Hopper assumed it was to keep him from retaliating if attacked (he’s the victim of other’s after all). What he refuses to see is the potential for Butcher to be protecting him from himself. It’s not like Hopper isn’t on the verge of self-destruction constantly. Butcher has to talk him off the ledge every other chapter.
There is so much more, from the memories that harken back to Le Petit Prince, to Hannibal treating him like a victim by taking care of him … there is more but I’ll leave it at all this.
One thing I did want to mention was that Will, in this chapter, might be a victim of a whole new problem: a medical condition that causes blackouts.
I have already written in a couple blackout scenes of missing/lost time in previous chapters because I like writing the encephalitis into my Hannibal fics. Whether or not this becomes a plot point depends on the direction the story goes. So far the blackouts fit nicely into my “unreliable narrative” and as I am also an “unreliable author”, it’s all fitting together like square pegs and round holes. Eventually, I will fix it all with a sledgehammer, so don’t you worry.