Six of Crows, A Wonderful Universe is a weekly mini-series dissecting the world that Leigh Bardugo created in her duology, Six of Crows. So far we have talked about how trauma has affected Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa over the course of the series. Today, I am going to be discussing Jesper Fahey. This is meant to be read by fans of the series, but spoiler warning for those reading this before enjoying the books.
“Well, we’ve managed to get ourselves locked into the most secure prison in the world. We’re either geniuses or the dumbest sons of bitches to ever breathe air.”
Our favorite shooter is an adrenaline and danger lover. Even with his very flirty, sweet and lovable personality, we still see a terribly loyal and fierce side at the same time. Jesper sounds like the character who is there for comic relief, but he is so much more than that. He goes through a lot in this book, both internal and external. He must hide an important part of his identity.
By definition, covering up is the act of downplaying, minimizing or concealing a known stigmatizing identity. According to Uncovering Talent: A New Model of Inclusion, there are four main categories of covering up:
- Appearance: People change their habits, mannerisms, and body modifications (tattoos and piercings, for example) in order to be more acceptable in the environment.
- Affiliation: People avoid talking about significant relationships in their lives (such as being a parent or being adopted) to avoid being perceived as uncommitted individuals.
- Advocacy: People avoid identity-related issues (such as, for example, being disabled or a member of the LGBTQ+ community) so as not to be perceived as outspoken advocates for these groups.
- Association: People avoid being around certain communities (e.g., lgbtqia people, people of color, people of a different religion, etc.) to avoid any stereotypes and stigmas associated with them.
In Jesper’s case, one could say that he falls into the category of association. Let’s remember that he is a Grisha Fabrikator who can manipulate metals in different ways. He grew up on a Jurda farm in western Novyi Zem with his Kaelish father, Colm Fahey, and his Zemeni mother, Aditi Hilli. She taught him how to live on the frontier, how to shoot and how to use his power, which they shared. When Jesper was seven, his mother died after using her power to save a girl from poison. After that, his father forced him to keep his Grisha power hidden and forbade him to use it.
Being Grisha is an extremely important part of his identity. It is not the only trait that shapes him, but it does contribute to define his identity. Keeping his identity hidden has generated trauma for him, even if the symptoms are not that noticeable. Let’s modify the case to fit reality. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am forced to hide this part of my identity so that I am not associated with this group. This way, I am able to avoid suffering the negative consequences that society exerts against them, from discrimination to hate crimes. In the case of the Grishas, they are persecuted, kidnapped and killed simply for being who they are. They are born into a world that hates and persecutes them. Not being able to fully express their identity does not allow them to be completely happy or to be themselves.
On the other hand, we have his addiction to gambling and drinking. Gambling addiction is an impulse control disorder. He cannot control the urge to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for himself or his loved ones. It must be remembered that when someone suffers from an addiction, it may be impossible to use willpower to abstain. The more times the behavior is repeated, the less sensitivity one has and the more it takes to get the same effect. In his case, gambling and alcohol produce feelings of excitement that become less intense over time.
Unfortunately, because it is not such an ‘intense’ trauma, or rather, because it is so socially normalized, fans of the series do not give the importance it deserves. This has caused many readers to see Jesper Fahey as nothing more than a comic relief character.
Last brief analysis: He is constantly going from one thing to another, so he never focuses on his anxiety. He is very worried about everything and how he messes up, but would rather get worse than face his fears. He wants to be better, to get away from toxic things. He just wants to hide, but he knows it will be worse.