Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I'm inordinately pleased with myself.

I'm about to post about the Deadly Sin of Anger, and I'm illustrating my point with fluffy kittens.

*Pause to consider gorgeousness of kittens-as-anger post*


As you may know, our backyard is full of kittens. Nine regulars and an uncounted number of visitors, all belonging to the farm behind our house. The kittens are half-wild. Every day we give them our cats' leftovers, make sure they've got water, and check they're doing okay. In spite of this, when we open the back door, we're greeted by small, fluffy demons from hell. Little kitty babies in paroxysms of fury, ears flat to their head, eyes narrowed, teeth bared, spitting and hissing and waving their little razor-sharp claws.

The pictures here are of the youngest kittens, and the most friendly. I can't get close enough to take a picture of the angry ones! We've had the most contact with the kittens pictured, mostly because a) their mother insisted and b) every time we open the back door, they rush into the kitchen like ballistic fluff-balls. But imagine these little bundles transformed into gremlins after their fortieth espresso, vibrating with rage.

Ah, I hear you cry, but it's not anger, it's fear!

Of course it is. It's fear and defensiveness.

But how do we tell? Isn't a lot of anger merely a mask of fear, in one form or another?

In Dangerous Lies, Mari gets desperately angry with Alan.

She wriggled suddenly, miraculously wrenching a knee from the confining cloth.
She put it to good use.
While Alan lay gasping on the floor, curled up in a protective ball, she got herself to her feet and tried to wipe the taste of him from her lips.
“What’s the matter, Waring, do you need to tie your women up these days?”
He blinked at her from the floor, his face pained. I’ll bet it’s pained. “For pity’s sake, Marianne!” he groaned.
“I don’t want your pity, and you don’t want mine!” she shrieked.

Part of that is a righteous anger for things that are 100% his fault, but a major part of it is fear that her experiences have chcanged her into someone different, someone unlovable.

Behind Emily's anger in Taken is the fear that occupies her every day - fear that her nightmare isn't over, that she will be a kidnap victim again.

Tristan sat down heavily in the chair.
“And you know the thing that really fascinates me about the whole thing,” she stammered slightly, tripping up on her rage as much as her words, he thought. “Apart from the whole ‘keep Emily busy in bed so she won’t ask questions’ thing..”
Oh hell.
“And that’s….” she faltered, losing it in spite of all her effort. “W-when were you going to tell me there was a freak out there who wants to hurt me?”
And then she looked at him. He wondered why he’d wanted to see her eyes earlier, because, God, he never wanted to see her look at him like this.
“What if I had managed to escape, Tristan,” she hissed. “What then?”
“I wouldn’t have let you.”
She was half out of her seat, fists clenched, screaming at him, “There are some things you can’t control!”

Hal's anger in Rescuing Rachel is a mask for his fear of being unable to be himself in a demanding, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week role.

She hadn’t expected this. Oh, she was no fool. She knew she didn’t deserve to have him fall to his knees and bathe her feet, but she’d expected... hoped for something of the care he’d shown her only a few hours ago. But that Hal was gone. This Hal was silent and cold, more than distant, barricaded against her utterly.
The ancient architecture around them, rosy stone and studded oak, was just a setting. This man was his own castle.

So much of human behaviour (and animal behaviour!) is motivated by fear.

Now, I know why Mari, Emily and Hal are angry at certain times in their story. But I didn't always know.

With those angry characters on my hands I had to ask one of Kate Walker's big WHYs and unpick that robe of rage to discover the fear beneath.

But with the kittens I'll just have to go with intuition. They're too scary to unpick...


At 10:35 pm, Blogger Loreth Anne White said...

I want one!!! Yep, even a spiky little angry one. Best cat I ever had in my life started out just like those you're describing -- couldn't get near enough to even look at the wild bundle of fluff, but I'd leave food out and try and spy around the corner when 'it' crept out from under the shed.

Then miraculously (seriously) I woke up one night with the kitten ball sleeping on my chest. She'd found her way in, and found me. Made me weep, I tell ya :). She moved in some months later, learned to meow properly more months later, and turned into the prettiest, fluffiest, green-eyed princess you could ever hope to meet -- but trust never came easy to Cass -- she'd always leave the house if a stranger came to visit.

Your characters sound fabulous, Anna.

At 10:22 am, Anonymous Michelle said...

Cute kittens, even if they are demonic! Wow. They're lucky you do give them food and water, though.

Good luck with the characters!

At 9:03 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it anger if it is really fear?

Anger can be the disguise for many things: humiliation, depression, frustration, inadequacy; it can even be hormonal. Are any of these deadly sins?

And anger can also be justified. I believe it is right to be angry about abuse of people, animals or the environment. Both God and Jesus display righteous anger.

Therefore what is the “anger” that is the deadly sin? After all, no one is angry without reason.

Ambiguity and openness to interpretation are rife in the bible…

Bear XXX

At 3:45 pm, Anonymous Julie Day said...

They look so cute and innocent from the back. We get lots of cats in our gardens because a lot of people up our road have them and they often come into our garden, so we shoo them out.
I sometimes watch the cats actions and have made stories out of them which I send to a small press magazine. The same for squirrels.

At 11:39 am, Anonymous Julie Cohen said...

I agree with Bear, that not all anger is born out of fear. But what marvellous insight you've given, with your extracts. And what a difference it would make if we were able to react to others' anger with understanding and compassion when it's born out of fear...and to defuse our own by understanding its true meaning.


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