This one is an odd one because I haven’t exactly finished Red Dead Redemption 2 (I’ll get round to it, don’t worry!) but I have seen it been played through twice. Before I actually played it – back when I thought I would not like it – I just started to read about the characters. So, today we are going to talk about how Red Dead Redemption 2 teaches us that love is hard.
So, I know Arthur Morgan is great an’ all, but we’re going to be talking about John for a while so… sorry. Stick around, though. Arthur will be here eventually.
John is the first Red Dead Redemption protagonist and one of the first things you do as Arthur is go to rescue him. Dutch is all inspiring and gives a speech about how we stick together. The player would obviously be very excited to rescue the last protagonist of the game. John is very well thought of, in general. However, Arthur seems to have some kind of dislike for John. The player soon learns that John had left the gang previously, and Arthur thought he was going to do that again. Arthur is someone who believes that loyalty is one of the most important traits someone could have, going as far as to say that it is the only thing that mattered to him. Arthur and John both came into the gang when they were young, so they basically grew up together. They have a brotherly relationship. They love each other the same way that brothers do. This is why Arthur is so hurt by John leaving the gang after getting Abigail pregnant. Throughout the game, their relationship improves, and you see Arthur encouraging John to spend more time with his family, especially Jack. This could be because Arthur had a son, Issac, who died during a robbery. Arthur knows how important that bond is, and he does not want John to miss out on seeing his son growing up. Arthur recuses John plenty of times throughout the game and helps John get Jack back when he is kidnapped by the Braithwaite family. I think the most obvious sign of the brotherly love between Arthur and John comes when Micah Bell speculates that John will betray them; he points out Arthur’s own doubts about John. Arthur, however, states that he knows that John will not betray them. This shows that despite the lack of loyalty from John running away, over the course of the game, John had gained Arthur’s trust back. Arthur writes in his journal that he had always liked John and that he had become less of a fool lately, which could refer to their relationship being improved and them becoming more mature. Brothers do not always get along. They bicker and fight, but usually, they make up after a while. This is what happened here.
Sticking with John for a little bit, let’s talk about Abigail. Now, if you have played the first Red Dead Redemption game, you were probably a little shocked by John’s behaviour in Red Dead Redemption 2. John is disinterested in his family in the second game, which is a prequel. He is not the family man that he will become. John and Abigail are seen arguing throughout a lot of the game; however, as Dutch goes more and more insane, John picks his family over the gang. Arthur encourages John to spend more time with his family throughout the game, which likely would have encouraged him to rethink what was important to him. After leaving the Van Der Linde gang, John struggles to live an honest life until Abigail leaves with Jack. This metaphorically opens his eyes so that he realises that his family means more to him than anything. When Jack is kidnapped by the Braithwaite family, John is angry, which shows that he cares for his son. Abigail and John’s relationship shows us that sometimes, relationships are rocky. However, that does not mean that they cannot work out well in the end. At the end of the first Red Dead Redemption game, John sacrifices himself for his family, showing that he does truly love them and he is willing to give up his life for them to have an advantage.
Next, we are going to be talking about three people- John, Arthur and Dutch. Dutch is the leader of the Van Der Linde gang, as he started it after meeting Hosea Matthews. As mentioned previously, John and Arthur joined the gang when they were very young. They both saw Dutch as a father figure. He even taught them how to read. They definitely both have a father-son relationship with Dutch. The problem with that is that Dutch is manipulative. So many people keep relationships with their toxic family because “they’re family” and this is sort of what happens during Red Dead Redemption 2. However, John and Arthur notice Dutch’s deteriorating mental state and start to disagree with his ideology. Dutch claims that them questioning him is them being disloyal – something that Arthur in particular hates – which is a form of manipulation. This relationship shows how hard it can be to maintain a relationship with someone who is toxic for you; it also shows how easy it is for manipulative people to use the bond they have developed with you to make you do what they want you to do. Lastly, it shows that love comes in all different forms, but it is not always good.
Lastly, we are going to be talking about romantic relationships. I kind of touched on this with John and Abigail, but a big part of their relationship is Jack, so it is more to do with family than romance. In particular, I am going to be talking about Mary and Eliza. The latter was a waitress who Arthur had sexual relations with, which resulted in them having a son named Issac. While Arthur did not harbour any feelings towards Eliza, he still supported her and their son. He went to visit them every few months and would stay for a few days. This shows that he had respect for Eliza. While the love was not there, the respect was, and that is something that is important yet absent in many relationships. Arthur and Mary fell in love when they were fairly young, but due to a few things (mainly Arthur’s way of life) they broke up. After years of not seeing each other, Mary sends a letter to Arthur, asking him for help. After helping her out, Mary states that she still has feelings for Arthur. She asks him to run away with her so that they can be together. Although Arthur admits that he still has feelings for her, he turns down her offer of running away as he still has people in the gang that he needs to protect as they are like family to him. Mary then cuts off all ties with Arthur, sending him a letter with the ring that he gave her. This relationship teaches us that relationships have to be more than just loving each other. You need to have the respect for each other, and you need to give each other the room to grow as well. It shows that love is not enough for a healthy relationship.
In conclusion, Red Dead Redemption 2 shows that love is hard as it covers several different relationships, and several different types of relationships. They show some relationships working out for the better over time; they show some relationships not working out. Red Dead Redemption 2 also shows that relationships are not just a straight line; they are a roller-coaster. They have highs and lows, and this game shows it very well.