Breaking the Narrative Episode 40: A Link to the Future! A Legend About Compassion for Men?


Last week I tore apart Sarkeesian’s arguement about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This week I’m going to go into a potential reason why she did it. My hypothesis is if either she or McIntosh did play enough of it, the narrative it puts forward by the game centers around compassion for one’s fellow human beings… or in this case Hylians. Hylians represent in this set up the majority culture, primarily white people. Before I make my case, I want to put down what I think the different races represent in the world of Hyrule crafted by Nintendo. Like I said, Hylians represent Anglo Saxxon Europeans. This is Gaelic, Celtic, Norse and Anglo archetypes that are most complained about among the social justice crowd. The Sheikah who represent Japan’s culture in their home village of Kakariko. The Zoras represent the rest of East Asia, down to the elder folk being extremely bigoted towards the Hylian race for something that wasn’t their own fault. The Gorons who represent the more easy going ‘people of color’ (I really hate that term) while the Gerudo represent the Middle East as a whole. Yes, I’m gonna trigger a lot of people by suggesting once again that deep down it’s the women are who in charge of Islamic society. If you know the series history you’ll know what I’m talking about. Finally, the Rito bird people represent non-European indigenous tribes. Now that those races have been quickly analyzed lets get out our spoiler warnings once again and Lets Hammer This In.

To begin lets look at how Link starts the game, awakening after 100 years sealed in a regeneration chamber known as the “Shrine of Resurrection”. Haughty religious epithets aside, this goes to show that there was concern over his well being. As mentioned in the previous article there are various memories throughout the land and the way this depicts Link before his need for healing is as a defender, headstrong and stoic, the stereotypical knight of old. His interaction with his fellow guardians is that of an equal. None view him as any better or lesser than the others despite him being chosen by the Master Sword. Urbosa sees him as a little brother. Mipha loves him as a childhood friend as well as on a deeper level. Daruk sees him as sort of army buddy, and Revali sees him as a sort of rival, yet still has a begrudged respect for him. Zelda at first views him as a hindrance but by the end of the memories realizes he is more her equal. More on that later… from here we should look at how the various races of this age of Hyrule treat Link.

At first you are guided by the Old Man who ends up being the late King Rhoam Bosphoramos Hyrule (I did say there would be spoilers). He at this point treats you as a mentor does his pupil, since he realizes that Link is an amnesiac after the regeneration process. He has to relearn everything there on the Great Plateau. Therefore, the Old Man gives you an objective and sets you on your way, setting a sort of artificial barrier in the form of falling off the side of the Plateau being fatal to anyone without a para-glider. Overall though, he teaches you everything that you need to survive in this new Hyrule, in essence raising you up again like a son. While his primary concern does seem to be for his daughterh he worries just as much for Link. In the end he entrusts him with everything the 117 young knight needs to fulfill his task. But what of outside of the prelude area? Most other Hylians don’t realize who he is even if they remember hearing stories of a master swordsman who would save the world. They don’t expect him to be alive in their era, namely because Hylians do live the standard 80-100 years we are experienced with in humans.

Next we look at the Sheikah. This is a little more straightforward as all of them are raised and trained to be strong and noble defenders of the crown. They have a more long lived life of approximately 150 years. This is said to be due to their use of shadow magic elongating their lives to more than Hylians. For example, Purah in this game is 120 years old despite being aged down to 6 due to a mishap. Impa, her younger sister is about 4 to 5 years younger, though it is not directly specified. Those who realize who Link is have a deep reverence for him due to their duty to preserve the Royal Family and his role in defeating Ganon. However, they don’t exactly treat him like a god and give him everything. He still has to earn their aid and earn their gifts, typically being very commanding towards him. So they do show a lack of caring for his well being. However, this is due not to a hatred of men as much as an influence of Bushido upon the Sheikah. Each one sees their lives as that of samurai. This is shown in the shields and swords, gained from swords you sometimes find in the shrines. Speaking of this, the monks of these shrines are all Sheikah themselves at the near end of their lives, preserving themselves in their own stasis until Link’s arrival and passing of their trials to give him their strength in the form of Spirit Orbs that you turn into Heart Containers or Stamina Wheel pieces.

Now we get to where its interesting. How do Zoras view Hylians, specifically Link. First we have to realize that Zoras are extremely long lived. As such, they age slightly slower than Hylians. This is told in the main memory Link carries of Mipha. However, you end up meeting Zora who were children when link was around originally, stating they are about 120 to 130 at that point. Many elder Zoras reach up to the 300 to 400 year point as far as I can tell from some of the lore. If I’m interpreting this age structure wrong please correct me. However, while these younger Zora still remember Link fondly and those who are young children now see him as neat because he is a Hylian, the much older ones hate him due to the loss of their princess a century earlier. Some even hated Hylians before that because of perceived oppression… Gee where have I heard that sort of thing before? You do end up earning their respect and softening them to you as time goes along. Moving on.

After this I went towards Death Mountain to meet up with the Gorons. While I met one Goron in Zora’s Domain, this is where they make up the main population.  Here, they are mostly indifferent to Hylians, concentrating typically on mining different rocks. Now I know what some might say, “THEY’RE SLAVES YO! HYLIANS ARE SLAVING THE GORONS FOR BLOOD DIAMONDS LIKE MUH AFRIKAN BRETHEREN! WE WUZ KANGZ YO!” This is of course ridiculous because Gorons are people made of rocks. As such they also eat….rocks. Sapphires, Diamonds, and Topaz are tasty delicacies to them though many of them love a good rock roast. Rubies are a prized treat as well. They are also the only actual agender race in this world. Though they all seem to identify as male and their age is depicted by rocky growths on their backs. Their lifespans and method of reproduction aren’t touched upon. A guess is that ‘a chip off the old block’ means differently since to achieve manhood you have to roll with a bomb exploding and keep going… kind of rough if you ask me.  They, however, don’t have the best memory and can be a little socially dense. However ,if you earn their respect they will start to see you as family calling you ‘brother’ even if you are a female.

Speaking of which lets look at the Gerudo, In previous games they are typically antagonistic at first due to their intense differences from Hylian culture. While Hylians were living comfortably, the desert faring Gerudo were constantly on the move searching for supplies and water, especially since the large majority are women (vai in Gerudo tongue) while they only have a man(voe) born to one of them once every 100 years. Ganon was one of this tribe in Ocarina of Time and its mentioned as such in this game too. In this game their attitude to foreigners has softened over the centuries, though any foreign man is still forbidden from their capital and they will kick you out immediately if you try to sneak in unless you decide to play in RuPaul’s Drag Race. Bad jokes aside the amazonian race of tan women despise most men but accept the fact that they have to go out into the world and find one to continue the race. Those who Link proves himself to seem to view him as desirable but at the same time wouldn’t reveal their thoughts and won’t make it ok to have Link shirk his disguise. They see all women as sisters though and see worship of Hyrulean gods as distasteful. So much familiar, so very reminding.

As for the last race we have the Rito, a race of bird people. I would say this race was modeled after native peoples to the Americas, but I know better. I realize their clothing and culture closely resembles that of the Ainu tribe of Japan, down to the division of labor, women working to help make arrows, food and clothing… down to men being bowsmiths, warriors and hunter. Ironically the preferred meat of this race is poultry. Go ahead and make your cannibal jokes now. Interestingly enough the crest of your para-glider is the same as the symbol for the Rito Village. Since their culture is known for having fledglings that can’t fly yet use tools to be with their parents when they fly, though the game doesn’t say so, I would believe the tool was prepared for Link to aid him by his fellow Guardian Revali, even if the king is the one who provided it in the game. The Rito have similar if not the same lifespan as Hylians as far as I can tell as each of them believes Link not to be the original champion but a descendant with the story of him going into hiding not being handed down. However, they, too, are friendly to you if you prove yourself capable. Even Revali acknowledges your ability and ingenuity when his spirit hands you his ability which gives an updraft where ever.

What do these reactions tell us overall? That most people don’t really think of Link as anything except for the disposable male hero he is. He is the one chosen by the sword to fulfill the prophecy, while everyone else gets to live in peace after he seals Ganon away again. But to Zelda, he is so much more. At first she sees him as a hindrance, like I said before, but she grows to understand him more and more as time goes on, after he saves her… after she saves him. Near the end of the game you can end up reading Zelda’s diary and it is what helps you understand the ever-silent and stoic Link, at least this Link. From the next to last entry it reads as follows:

Bit by bit, I’ve gotten Link to open up to me. It turns out he is quite a glutton. He can’t resist a delicious meal! When I finally got around to asking why he’s so quiet all the time, I could tell it was difficult for him to say. But he did. With so much at stake, and so many eyes upon him, he feels it necessary to stay strong and to silently bear any burden. A feeling I know all too well… For him, it has caused him to stop outwardly expressing his thoughts and feelings. I always believed him to be simply a gifted person who had never faced a day of hardship. How wrong I was… Everyone has struggles that go unseen by the world… I was so absorbed with my own problems, I failed to see his.

I wish to talk with him more and to see what lies beneath those calm waters, to hear him speak freely and openly…and perhaps I, too, will be able to bare my soul to him and share the demons that have plagued me all these years.

This sounds to me like a woman who didn’t know what men dealt with all the time and she didn’t even know how her father was also pushing her the same way a man does his son, treating her not as a child but as a capable individual. You find this in his diary too. This alone shatters the mindsets of those before him as they show that in the end Zelda and her father see Link not just as a tool like the rest do but as a Hylian, as a man, as family. They love him, not in the way Mipha loves Link but in the way that one who holds true compassion for another person does. It is this compassion that led for them to send him to the Shrine of Resurrection, not just to save the world but to save him, to give him a chance at happiness after all is said and done. If this lesson is seen it  might just change how people look at men. That’s why I decided I needed to write this article after completing the game up to this point. I know there are two parts of DLC coming later and I’m already getting that. However, I don’t see those things as affecting this primary storyline. In addition I’m not going to give away the full ending here, as it too is irrelevant to my point, even though I have managed to get the true ending at this point, and 120 shrines is no shallow feat. Nor are most of the side quests. I’ve had a full vacation.

But I’ve digressed enough by now,  to conclude it looks as though through the treatment of Link and how mentalities change throughout Breath of the Wild we have a showing in video game form of how compassion for a man can save an entire society. Proof positive of this is to get the complete ending of the game. So if you are already playing it but haven’t beaten it yet because you aren’t sure you should get everything then let me answer that for you: You really should. By doing so, you get the complete ending and see that a ruined and destroyed kingdom is not only saved but rebuilt because of a singular act of compassion for men. That’s why I think feminists have attacked the game. That’s why I think deep down if they really played through this game then they fear it, because it demolishes their narrative and ruins what they yearn to do. It also validates our own arguments just as the Sabine women did before and as The Red Pill movie does now. Do I think this is intentional? Perhaps it is, or perhaps it isn’t. We just have to look at this from a series perspective later to see if there is any consistency in this message. So I’ll revisit the series later to examine. Next week though, I think we need a palate cleanser.  Lets see what pops up, and please remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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About the author

Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

By Alex Tinsley

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