War: Destruction and creation

Squall fights a war on two fronts: one against the sorceress, and the other against his personal demons.

Originally, I was going to discuss "War and Peace", but after giving it some thought, I opted otherwise. First, I would like to state that although we tend to think that the opposite of war is "peace", it does not necessarily entail all aspects of it. As Sun Tzu writes, "In peace, prepare for war," in which case peacetime precedes and follows a period of destruction. War is, in simpler terms, an element of destruction, and is sometimes considered destruction itself. Thus, as Jonathan Larson, playwright for the musical Rent explains, the opposite of war is not peace, but creation. Furthermore, we know that with creation comes change. Squall not only fights a war in the physical realm, but also on an internal level. As we go through Squall's experience, we find that in order to fight his demons, he must become a new person; this idea of creating a new outlook for himself ultimately brings him to evolve.

Squall's occupation as a mercenary doesn't allow him the pleasure of deciding who the lesser evil in conflict is. Times of war only permit the SeeD one particular mindset: fight for whoever is paying you. After discovering the cooperation of Sorceress Edea with Galbadia on a broadcast in Timber, Squall questions why Balamb Garden and Galbadia Garden are to join forces with General Caraway. Instead of pondering why and for what reason, he convinces himself that it isn't an issue he should be concerned about and should just simply follow orders . In the aspect of being a mercenary, Squall didn't have a reason to side with anything or anyone, nor a justification on whether or not what he was doing was correct. The only neck he would have to look after was his own. This is due to his painful history; siding with one opposition, he believes, is fruitless. For several years, he believed that relying on himself-- not anyone else-- was the only way to fight and survive. This, of course, carries onto his personal problems and moral dilemmas that remained unresolved for a good time.

Squall understands that, in terms of war, there is no side that is better from the other; neither one is good nor evil . Yet, he also believes that engaging in physical fights is not the best of solutions, and would rather solve quarrels diplomatically without escalating to a physical altercation. When Galbadian troops attempt to capture Fisherman's Harbor, Squall agrees with the mayor of the town that talking through issues would be his first choice of action; however, when no other options are left, he would use force if necessary. .

His words indeed have much merit: war is certainly not the answer. However, Squall had yet to take his own advice; he had been fighting battles within himself for years, stubborn to find a way out of it. Another interpretation would be to say that he wasn't fighting his problems at all, but merely avoiding it. The latter argument reflects the statement pertaining to his indifference about his view on never taking a side: there is no right or wrong side, as he explains, because it's best not to even think about it. And, knowing Squall so well, thinking doesn't exactly get him anywhere.

Final Fantasy VIII deals with war, and fighting in general, rather regularly. Squall's party has skirmishes with a plethora of enemies, such as mobile armies, crazy sorceresses, and fantastical creatures. However, the one battle he keeps closest to, the one he is familiar with the longest, and the one we are arguably most interested in, is he himself. As I write this section, I am constantly going over scenes from old save files, particularly the dream sequences of him as a child just after confronting Ellone. Squall has been angry at himself for a long time, perhaps for not being strong enough to overcome his abandonment as a child. This very same problem builds up for years and years: he becomes so distant from human compassion that he believes it will be almost impossible to feel anything in due time. Things change when he meets Rinoa, however, and Squall learns to break down his walls. In doing so, a different kind of Squall resurfaces, or rather, is slowly created.

Squall's internal struggle begins at a point where he himself can only vaguely remember; it has seeped in so far in his consciousness--to the point of subconscious--that the source of the problem doesn't surface until he dreams. And when he does, it is a rather simple understanding: Squall hates himself not for what others had done to him, but the actions he had taken (or lack thereof) upon himself.

About Antihero
Antihero is a fansite dedicated to Squall Leonhart, a fictional character from Final Fantasy 8. Started in August 2004, this site hosts a collection of analyrical essays and writings geared towards helping to understand the character on a critical level. All personal opinions are subject to debate. Also featured is an archive of images collected from various places over the years.
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