?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Unabashed Spoiler Hound & Fanfic writer

Reveling in the fickle nature of fangirlishness

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Dean Winchester: Nature vs. Nurture
sophie_deangirl
An old TV Guide blog:


Helen Keller said, "It all comes to this: the simplest way to be happy is to do good."

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Your goodness must have some edge to it, -- else it is none."

Mark Twain said,"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare."



Sorry it's been so long between blogs. Life has been busy in all the wrong ways and in none of the fun ways.

I'm hoping to get my groove back with another Dean testimonial. There may be repetitive ground being covered from past testimonials and from other blogs here. I admit to being somewhat single-minded when it comes to Dean as most of you know, hee, hee, still, it is fun thinking about the prospect of writing another tribute and treatise to a very complex and yet pure-intended man.

As I was performing CindyRose's lovely birthday quiz for Jared's birthday, I allowed my thoughts to wander aimlessly and stray into the pleasant thoughts of Dean and how much of his life seemed almost pre-ordained. Many of Season 2's episodes reflected Dean's talents, but there was so much more to it than just being a talented hunter.

Of course, we all know how it all began, don't we? Or do we?

"What Happened that Night...What They Witnessed...Sent Two Brothers...On a Quest for Answers..."

They got some of the answers in Season 2, but they also have more questions.

We learned that even at the start of the Winchester family legend and legacy, there was information that we didn't know then that we are just beginning to discover now.

The demon's revelation to Sam about how Mary knew it haunts and tantalizes new imaginings that weren't there before as well as Sam being fed the demon's blood. All has not been completely revealed after all. There is still more to learn about the family Winchester. Still, given what we do know, Dean's destiny seemed to have been forged from that night, right? Ah, but was it really?

One wonders if Dean's prowess at hunting isn't just all about nuture, that there might be something rooted in his nature that would have manifested itself anyway (or in some other way) if the events of that night had not occurred. If that's the case, what does that innate ability mean for Dean other than being an exceptional hunter? Maybe nothing, but one has to ponder the possibilities. Least I do.

The Winchester family motto and creed has always been:

"Saving people, hunting things, the family business."


The legacy may have been coined by Dean, but it was put into motion by John Winchester after that fateful night. It is shortly thereafter that he thrusts his young sons into the training that would shape them as adults.

Still, Dean relates his role in the family dynamic as one that was never instilled in him by anyone, not even by his father, but just known by him.

"I just wanted you to be a kid, at least for a little while longer. I was trying to protect you, keep you safe. Dad didn't even have to tell me. It was just always my responsibility, you know?"

The line, "Dad didn't even have to tell me" gives Dean an amazing self-knowledge about himself and his "job" that continues to astound. For someone who doesn't believe in destiny, he certainly seems convinced that his one and only responsibility is to protect and save Sam. Even when he tells Sam not to judge him for his decision to sell his soul, he tells him it was his job to take of him:

"Don't get mad at me. Don't you do that. I had to. I had to look out for you. That's my job."

Even when Sam insists that Dean can't protect him, he tells him he'll try:

"You can't protect me."
"I can try."
"Thanks for saying that."


It's an unwavering devotion to a role that all of us know is more than just a "job" by the simplest of definitions.

When Jo calls him on loving the job and he tells her it's because he's a little twisted, someone with a vivid imagination (me) might extrapolate that with no other "options" open to him (another point he makes to Jo about how lucky she was to have options), he questions his "job" to protect Sam at that point not because he doesn't love doing the job per se, but because of the consequences to failing at doing the job he's done for years, protecting Sam. I'm sure that it never occurred to him before his father's secret that he could ever fail at saving and protecting Sam, but with the caveat of failing to do that being killing him, twisted doesn't even begin to cover it what Dean must have been going through.

Later, Dean relates to Jo a memory that shows his talent for shooting as not just atttributed to good training on John's part:

"I was six or seven and uh, he took me shootin' for the first time. You know, bottles on a fence, that kind of thing. I bulls-eyed every one of them."

How could a six or seven year old bulls-eye bottles without a single minute of training if there wasn't something innately within him that made him a natural at the talent? Where it comes from is still at question and fodder for lovely speculation that I won't get into here and I'm not even toying with anything supernatural as the reason.

Later, with Gordon, he relates another childhood memory that not only solidifies his talent for shooting, but also brings about the epiphany of the acceptance of his fate, that he would never be like other kids his age:

"So, I pick up this crossbow and I hit that ugly sucker with a silver tipped arrow, right in his heart. Sam's waiting in the car and me and my dad take the thing into the woods and burn it to a crisp. I'm sitting there and I"m looking into the fire and I'm thinking to myself, I'm sixteen years old. Kids my age are worried about pimples, prom dates. I'm seeing things that they'll never even know, never even dream of. So right then I just..."

"Embraced the life."

"Yeh."

Gordon finishes the thought, but Dean doesn't attempt to dispute it either.

Beyond the physical talents that Dean possesses naturally, he lives by an admirable moral code that was clearly learned from John:

"Your Daddy raised you right."

and by Mary for the 4 years that Dean was afforded his mother's love, touch and beliefs:

And I'll tell you who else had faith like that. Mom. She used to tell me when she tucked me in that angels were watching over us. In fact that was the last thing she ever said to me.

Even if the manner of her death cracked those beliefs within Dean, the love remained unbroken as evidenced in his djinn fantasy, but for how long? After all, Sam has withheld the knowledge that Mary knew the demon and that he had been fed its blood from Dean. Could Dean's vision of his mother be further tainted by that knowledge?

Sam possesses that moral code too, but he sometimes qualifies it, in odd distinctions such as treating prisoners as less than deserving of their help because of their criminal proclivities rather than restless spirits like Molly who Sam deems innocent in some way. Dean doesn't make those distinctions which makes his devotion to the family motto that much more definitive:

"We may not be saints, but we're loyal and we pay our debts and that means something to me and it ought to, to you."

"Sorry we can't do that. It's not that we like him or anything it's just a matter of principle."

"Well, then you know that I can't let you just keep hurting people."


In essence, the division of nature versus nurture in Dean's case is less defined. One can totally see how John's training has nurtured both his sons into becoming the kind of men, the kind of hunters they are, but in Dean, there is this sense that there was something innate and natural from within him that would have inevitably drawn him to his fate in life somehow. Didn't mean that he wouldn't question it at some point but it came to that only because he was put in an untenable situation that directly involved not only the welfare of his little brother, but Sam's very life. It wasn't about just protecting him, something he has done all his life, willingly and lovingly, but more about if his hunter's skills failed to save Sam, that he would have to resort to a solution that was utterly unthinkable and against everything he was taught to believe in. Dean's ultimate crisis of faith and for the first time questioning whether his talent and skills would be enough.

Now that Season 2 has ended with Sam alive, brought back by applying everything taught to him (knowledge of making the deal (nurture) as well as the brotherly love inborn in him (nature)), Dean can now return to his core beliefs and skills to hunt down the 200 or so demons that escaped Hell with confidence again.

The "We've got work to do" has come full circle. Sam said it in the Pilot of Season 1 and Dean says it at the end of All Hell Breaks Loose in Season 2. Season 3 (YAY) brings with it new horizons to explore (and new challenges -- some feminine in nature -- a subject better saved for another time). Will the timetable on Dean's life and soul make his life all the more richer and fulfilling? I think it will. Will it make Dean more hedonistic? This is Dean, of couse it will, just a little, but not enough to stray from doing the job and doing it right. He has never drifted his eyes away from the job at hand. Even Sam got drunk on a case, Dean never has. When there's a job to do, Dean is fully focused on it and will put aside any distractions to get the job done. If he's guilty of anything, it's putting the job first too much in order to hide behind it.

Nature and nurture will converge again and despite everything facing him, Dean is whole again and he can face all comers with the knowledge that he saved Sam, that he achieved what his father wanted him to do, what he, himself, wanted to do.

He did his job and he did it right.