Questions about Sebastian/Jonathan | Interview with Cassandra Clare

agarotaquasesemhistorias said: Hey Cassie! You’re one of my favorite writers of all times!!! I think CP2 actually made accidental horcruxes of mine because my soul was definitely shattered. Well, I’ve always loved Sebastian’s character, because his story is so complex and there’s so much we don’t know about him. I wish we had gotten more time to see what he could’ve been… Is that possible? To see a what if? Also Jem believed in reincarnation. Is it true in the story?

I wouldn’t want to commit to a specific what if. There are too many factors that have gone into making Jonathan who he is. A Jonathan with demon blood, but not raised by Valentine is one thing. A Jonathan without demon blood, but raised by Valentine is something else. A Jonathan without demon blood and not raised by Valentine might be what we saw in Clary’s dream — that’s as close to a what-if as I think we’ll ever get.

As for Jem being right — I can’t tell you what happens when you die. I don’t know. The characters in the book don’t know. Jem believes what he believes. But none of them, even if they are Shadowhunters, have the answer to life after death. 

herondalectable said: In CoLS Clary (sees Sebastian’s whip marks and) wonders why Valentine would “whip one boy but not the other.” I don’t think this was ever answered. Sebastian says it’s a lesson about the price of obedience, but I don’t feel that that was ever explained any further. What exactly did he mean? And why was he the only one whipped? And why did Valentine keep Sebastian, but send Jace away?

Connecting up the whippings and the fact that Valentine kept Sebastian but sent Jace away is smart. Valentine explains why he did that in City of Glass:

“It wasn’t a son I needed,” Valentine said. “It was a soldier. I had thought Jonathan might be that soldier, but he had too much of the demon nature in him. He was too savage, too sudden, not subtle enough. I feared even then, when he was barely out of infancy, that he would never have the patience or the compassion to follow me, to lead the Clave in my footsteps. So I tried again with you. And with you I had the opposite trouble. You were too gentle. Too empathic. You felt others’ pain as if it were your own; you couldn’t even bear the death of your pets. Understand this, my son—I loved you for those things. But the very things I loved about you made you no use to me.”

Luke explains why Valentine kept Jonathan and sent away Jace:

“And if you ask me, I think Valentine sent you to the Lightwoods because he knew it was the best chance for you. Maybe he had other reasons too. But you can’t get away from  the fact that he sent you to people he knew would love you and raise you with love. It might have been one of the few things he ever really did for someone else.” (CoG)

Jace talks to Sebastian about Valentine’s feelings:

Sebastian was still grinning, but it was a rictus grin, like a skull’s. “You’re the angel boy. I had to hear all about you. You with your pretty angel face and your pretty manners and your delicate, delicate feelings. You couldn’t even watch a bird die without crying. No wonder Valentine was ashamed of you.”

“No.” Jace forgot the blood in his mouth, forgot the pain. “You’re the one he’s ashamed of. You think he wouldn’t take you with him to the lake because he needed you to stay here and open the gate at midnight? Like he didn’t know you wouldn’t be able to wait. He didn’t take you with him because he’s ashamed to stand up in front of the Angel and show him what he’s done. Show him the thing he made. Show him you.” Jace gazed up at Sebastian—he could feel a terrible, triumphant pity blazing in his own eyes. “He knows there’s nothing human in you. Maybe he loves you, but he hates you too.” (CoG 473-474)

Valentine whipped Sebastian because 1) he felt differently about him than he did about Jace, and the way we treat people depends on how we feel about them. 2) Sebastian was a living reminder of the evil Valentine had committed. 3) Maybe he loved him, but he hated him, too. 4) Sebastian was inclined to do terrible things which “required” disciplining (abuse, in Valentine’s case) and Jace wasn’t. He also sent Jace away when he was ten and kept Sebastian, and he would be more likely to whip an older boy than a younger one.

herondalectable said:Lastly, throughout TID it is discussed how the offspring of a demon and a Shadowhunter will be stillborn (unless, of course, the Shadowhunter is Unmarked). So I guess my last question is, how did Sebastian even survive birth? As I said, he is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever encountered. In fact, that’s probably the reason I’d like more clarification on why he is the way he is and how he came to be. Honestly, you’re one of my writing idols and I’d just really like to know how you created such a complex character.P.S. One more question, I feel like his remains being put into Lake Lyn/the Mortal Mirror is significant. Is there a possibility he can come back years later and redeem himself, or is this something that’s purely headcanon?

Sebastian isn’t the offspring of a demon and a Shadowhunter.

I am delighted that you are fascinated by Sebastian — I don’t think of him as a martyr, though, or as likely to rise from the ashes. The symbolism of putting his remains in Lake Lyn is whatever you choose to read into it. Why return the ashes of a boy who created a dark race of Shadowhunters to the place where Shadowhunters were first created? Why not?

onceinsideatardis said: Part 1 of 2- Hello! First, I would like to say that I am a big fan of your writing and love your books. (also I would like to thank you for taking the time to actually include LGBTQA+ characters. Every bit of positive representation helps) I loved the commentary on the differences between feelings of possession and actual love that the Sebastian/Clary dynamic provided, especially in CoHF, but I am a bit confused by what you intended to convey at the end of his arc. The Jonathan Morgenstern we saw at the end of CoHF was what he would have been without the demon blood, but I would like to ask how Valentine’s upbringing would have affected a Jonathan like this (one without demon blood). Would he have turned out evil (like he did with the demon blood) or as a person more like Jace?

Well, think about Valentine himself, and the difference between Valentine and Sebastian.

Valentine was not a good person. He didn’t have demon blood. He was just a zealot who was willing to sacrifice everything to a bigoted cause. However, he believed that he was in the right (and he wasn’t entirely wrong about the Clave sucking, though not for the reasons he thought it did.)

Sebastian on the other hand is a monster almost out of a horror story. He wants to burn the world down, he sexually assaults his sister, he kills happily and at random and his intent is to cause pain and destroy lives: it’s not just collateral damage. In City of Glass, we learn that Sebastian was so horrible that even Valentine was put off by him. That’s the demon blood.

It is likely that if he had been raised by Valentine, Jonathan would have been affected by that upbringing even if he hadn’t had demon blood, yes, but he probably wouldn’t have been basically a demon in human form. Seb/Jonathan is a mixture of bad impulses and bad upbringing. Certainly I had no intention to imply that if he hadn’t had demon blood, he would have been an angel of light: we’ve no idea what he would have been like, and we never will know. What I intended to convey at the end of his arc was simply the tragedy of wasted potential. Jonathan himself says that he isn’t a real person after Glorious burns out the demon blood, he’s like Clary’s dream of him, a possible Jonathan that could have existed but never actually did. When Clary cries while she’s burying him, she’s very specifically crying over the brother who never got to live, not Sebastian. They are two different people; it’s simply that one never really existed outside the realm of Edom, where things are numinous and dreams both good and bad take shape.

Did you ever think about not having Sebastian/Jonathan die at the end, but having him live after being cured by Glorious?

Definitely not. I’m not opposed to letting a redeemed villain live under some circumstances, but the things Sebastian did were beyond any redemption. What was left, the tiny shreds of good, were barely enough to keep him alive for a few minutes.

You can argue that they’re basically two different people — good! Jonathan and bad!Jonathan — and I’d agree, but good!Jonathan was still largely a what-might-have-been. The consequences of letting him live would have been awful anyway: the Clave wouldn’t consider him a “different’ person and would sentence him to death, no one on Team Good except maybe Jocelyn would be able to look at him without feeling queasy, poor Isabelle and Alec and Jace would be constantly faced with the spectre of the guy who murdered their brother — and poor Clary, Jesus. On top of that, poor imaginary good!Jonathan. One of my favorite bits of TV pop culture was the curse in Buffy that gave Angel the vampire his soul back, because it made the punishment for his years of evil simply the agony of having to suffer the memory of committing that evil with a conscience. It drove him insane and he ended up eating rats on the street. Letting Jonathan live wouldn’t have been a favor; it would have been a punishment.

I really, really need fic about Jonathan Morgenstern being a good brother to Clary with Jocelyn and Luke and being normal Shadowhunter family and stuff. Please, please someone write it….. — clockworkprim

Someone probably will. 🙂

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