A Buffy/Wesley Resource

Buffy Summers, a Hero Without an Out

Note: this was originally written as a mid-Season 7 Defense of Buffy. Some edits have been made.
By Minim Calibre

When writing Buffy, I've noticed people frequently give in to the temptation to characterize her as a bitch, or selfish, or unlikable. She does have her moments of all three, but none of those really dominate who she is, or what she does. It's important, therefore, to look at Buffy in context when considering writing her, especially if one is considering writing her in any sort of a 'ship.

Let's talk about choice, and about how little of it Buffy has had. Unlike some of the other characters who have actively chosen good, good chose her. At that moment, she lost the freedom to make her own choice. Any decision she makes—where to go to school, paper or plastic, Coke or Pepsi, somehow seems to affect the lives of other people. I'm only indulging in slight hyperbole here; she has to be more careful about what she does than most people, is forced to think about the results of the most inconsequential things, and it's crippled her at times.

An (originally) only child from a broken home, we know that her feelings of guilt and responsibility are character traits that predate her calling. When combined with an actual duty, the chains that are created bind her so tightly that the only way to escape them is death, and even that proves only a temporary haven. And yes, Buffy can be bitchy about it. She resents those chains, resents having her choices taken from her. Her journey has been a struggle to integrate the shackles into her life, and it's been a bumpy road.

As much as Buffy loves her friends, they're only just beginning to understand what she's gone through. Part of it is that she does, as a protective measure for both herself and for them, close herself off emotionally. This is a girl who knows she could be killed at any moment, and who has seen horrible things happen when she lets herself get to close to people. She's also had horrible things done to her in the name of love (from Angel leaving and taking that choice from her, to IWRY, to her resurrection, to any number of Stupid Spike Tricks). Is it any wonder that she's a little gun-shy?

And yet she doesn't want to be alone. She needs love, craves it, but if forced to make a choice between her needs and the needs of the world, the needs of the world come first. See: Becoming Part II. No, she wasn't willing to kill Dawn to save the world, but that wasn't about Buffy's needs, it was, to go back to the paragraph above, about Buffy's love. Her love for Dawn, be it put there by the monks or not, is something visceral, something she can't close off. It just is, and Buffy would rather die than let anything happen to Dawn. Dawn represents to her both the world Buffy has spent so much of her time saving, and the girl Buffy could have been, had she been allowed to choose her own path.

Buffy's not selfish, not really. She wants to be sometimes, almost as much as she wants love. She is self-focused, but that's not quite the same thing. Buffy would very much like to be her own person, not a tool of the fates. But she's got that whole responsible thing happening, and that whole guilt thing.

So cut her some slack, already. It sucks to be her, and she's just doing the best she can.

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