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Convolutions of an Evil Mind
COI - Random COI drabble
41 hisses or Hiss in my ear....
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: February 23rd, 2007 01:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Strife. COI's resident nutcase! ::evil cackle::

Yes, he's essentially mad at the whole world, thinks the whole world is out to get him, so he's going to get 'em first. Strife hates EVERYBODY.

Are you ready for spoilers? Good. ^_-

As you may have guess, COI-Cloud had an absolutely wretched childhood. Nibelheim is a parochial backwater town and its inhabitants are close-minded and suspicious of strangers. So when a snooty city woman from Midgar (Cloud's mother Bliss) waltzes into town, without a husband and pregnant, and starts putting on airs, it's no surprise that the townfolk don't like her, and their contempt gets transferred to her child.

The townfolk consider Cloud the bastard child of a city-slut-mother and treat him accordingly -- in other words, like complete and utter dirt. The kids naturally mimic their parents' attitudes, and everything goes downhill from there. Cloud's mother is of no help -- she's off in her own little narcissistic world and mostly spends her time thinking of ways to get back into President Shinra's good graces.

Cloud's physically small, not that strong, and quickly learns that trying to fight back only makes things much worse (e.g., if he tries to defend himself from bullies, the adults in town naturally blame him for causing trouble and punish him). Remember how Cloud got blamed for Tifa's injury when they were children, even though it was clearly her idea to go running off into the mountains -- Cloud followed because he wanted to protect her and fine thanks he got for that. -_- Obviously, Cloud's got a lot of suppressed anger, resentment, etc. So in an effort to cope with his horrible life, he creates the personality of Strife, a sort of distillation of all his negative feelings that he's too scared to express. And between that incident with Tifa and his mother's behavior, Cloud has particularly bad issues with women.

Cloud eventually goes to Midgar, but his obvious insecurity (and his cute looks) makes him a vulnerable and easy target for all sorts of bullying and abuse. This is when Cloud really starts having rage attacks (e.g., going berserk when a prostitute jokes at the size of his penis; ambushing a bully who taunted him about failing to get into SOLDIER, etc.).

If you want an objective look at the train wreck that's Cloud Strife, pre-Nibelheim, check out my Nibelheim Redux excerpt.

Throw heavy dosages of Mako and Jenova cells, years of sadistic medical experimentation and torture, and other nice stuff like that, and it's no wonder that Strife is a complete and utter psycho. ^_^

What triggers Strife? To put it simply, fear and hatred. Fear, like when he encounters something that brings back terrifying memories (e.g., people and places that remind him of medical torture). Hatred, like when he encounters people who remind him too much of earlier abuse events.

What are Strife's general goals? Basically, to show everyone that he's the best and the strongest, that he's in control, and that he can do whatever he fucking well wants to do. In other words, to be as different as possible from the scared, victimized Cloud he used to be. All the violence and viciousness are just his way of trying to show everyone that he's someone to be respected and feared the way that the younger Cloud never was.

Strife's both constantly scared and horribly insecure. It's a nasty combination that causes him react viciously to both real and imagined threats (or insults).

Ummm... does that help?

As for Cloud speaking to Aeris... that's a secret. Or in other words, I haven't decided. ^_-

How would Strife feel about Aeris? She's female, which practically guarantees that he'll consider her to be a sly, conniving, stupid, slutty bitch, fit only to be used, fucked, or killed as the mood hits him.

Uh, I DID mention that Strife has real issues with women. -_-
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 24th, 2007 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Squaresoft comparisons

There's also a relatively easy comparison between COI-young Cloud, and Fei from Xenogears, another game by Squaresoft from around the same time.

Or more specifically, between their alter-egos, Strife and Id. Cloud/Fei, abused physically, mentally, and spiritually as a child, develops a schizophrenic second personality in order to cope with that abuse. Or more accurately, that second personality is created as their scapegoat, so that the original persona can retreat into themselves to hide away from the pain.

It's a common human survival mechanism, unfortunately, and as we can all see, one with sometimes rather... severe... side-effects. The main personality is only around during the "good" parts, and the scapegoat during the "bad". Without a frame of reference, the negative side (Strife/Id) is only capable of perceiving or understanding the darker emotions – hate, anger, jealousy, rage, etc. – and as a direct result, slips into violent dementia or sociopathy. However, this also has the effect of stunting the main persona's mental/spiritual growth, as they do not face the sorts of challenges and unpleasantries that cause us to mature, instead automatically opting to shove such things onto the scapegoat.

Hence, COI-Cloud is a "momma's boy" and a "spineless wimp", as Strife so bluntly put him, and Strife is a sadistic, violent psychopath.
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: February 24th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Squaresoft comparisons

Oops! I forgot all about Fei. I remember reading about Xenogears around the same time I got interested in FF7, which was several years after both games first came out. And yes, now that you've reminded me, Id is very similar to Strife and probably served as a big part of my inspiration.

But mostly I got the idea of the split personality simply by thinking about Cloud's last name and its... negative... connotations. ^_^
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 26th, 2007 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Squaresoft comparisons

Strife more than likely chose to use that name for himself, specifically BECAUSE of those negative connotations.

Usually when people like those two (Strife & Id) choose a "nickname" for themselves like that, they not only take one to most closely describe themselves, but they unconsciously also remake themselves, so that they even more closely fit that namesake.

Just like "Id" fits Fei's alter-ego so well. The id, after all, is the portion of the human psyche that represents all of its most base desires, unaffected and unhindered by such things as intelligence or morals. (Ah, Freud. Gotta love it.) Id was an assassin. Laws did not matter to him, lives did not matter. He did what he wanted, when he wanted to. Fits him rather well, ne?
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: February 26th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Squaresoft comparisons

Strife more than likely chose to use that name for himself, specifically BECAUSE of those negative connotations.

I'm not sure about the game canon, but at least for COI, Strife is Cloud's real last name. His mother picked that name because it was as close to 'Shinra' as she dared get.

But you're right -- Cloud's negative persona picks that name, not only because of the negative connotations, but it sounds much stronger, violent, aggressive, and macho than 'Cloud'."

There are several instances throughout the COI works when various people comment that the pre-Nibelheim Cloud made a big deal about people using his last name -- partially because it made him feel more macho (and feeding his Strife persona) and partially because it was too easy for others to make humiliating jokes about his first name (e.g., 'clod', etc.)

But the present COI-Cloud is the reverse -- he's CLEARLY adverse to being called 'Strife', to the point of sharply correcting people. And there's several very good reasons why he has an unconscious and instinctive abhorrance for that name.
41 hisses or Hiss in my ear....