Avatar: The Last Airbender Analysis Essay
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- Published: 20 September 2021
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Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) shows the cost of war and the effect it can leave on people. In this TV series, a hundred-year war takes place between the Fire Nation and the rest of the world. Over the past years of the war, the Fire Nation has been invading and taking land from the Earth Kingdom. “The Tales of Ba Sing Se,” by Ethan Spaulding, talks about Iroh, an ex-Fire Nation general, who lost his son fighting in the war. Iroh has chosen to settle for a life of peace in Ba Sing Se, the capital of the Earth kingdom. In Ba Sing Se, he helps others whenever he sees someone in need even though these people were his enemies not too long ago. Iroh goes out of his way to help them in whatever way they need help. He always guides these people down a path where they can be happier and live more peacefully, something he was not able to do for his son. Iroh helps people because they remind him of his son. By helping all these people, he hopes to redeem himself for his son he could not help.
Iroh wishes he was able to help his son from the war. Since he was not able to stop violence from destroying his son, he helps others who are on this dark path. A young man, overcome with violence like his son, tries to mug Iroh. Iroh knows first-hand what this violence does so he seeks to help the mugger and redeem what he could not do for his son. When the mugger threatens Iroh for money he does not give in to the threats and is able to knock him to the ground. Even though the man attempted to mug him, Iroh tells him, he has a bad stance and teaches the proper way to hold a knife but tells him, “You do not look like the criminal type.” (“The Tales of Ba Sing Se” 07:29-07:34) The man was confused and lost on what to do in the need of money, so he turned to violence. Iroh realizes that the man was not an evil, cold-hearted person but a man who needs guiding down a better path. Iroh helps by telling him what he can do without hurting others. It was the first time the mugger felt like someone had believed in him. Iroh did not want him to do down a path of violence where he could get hurt or worse die like his son. Iroh has changed the path that this young man went down, something he wanted to do for his son but now can only do for others.
Another person that Iroh helps over many years is his nephew, Zuko. Zuko's father abandoned Zuko after he disobeyed him. After this, Iroh decides to stay with Zuko to try to give him a life he could not give to his son while being a father figure to Zuko. Zuko’s father exile him saying that he could never come back until he killed his enemy, the Avatar. Since Iroh is Zuko’s uncle he went with him to keep him safe. Iroh tries to convince him that it was not worth it to kill the Avatar and should find peace in himself. Even though Iroh does not like the idea of killing the Avatar he always follows Zuko and continues to try and raise him. To Iroh, Zuko is like a son and wants what is best for him, but to Zuko he just sees a man getting in way of his destiny. Later when they are looking for the Avatar Iroh gets Zuko to go on a date with a girl. After Zuko’s date Iroh asks, “How was your night, Prince Zuko?” but he goes to his room and closes the door (“The Tales of Ba Sing Se” 19:43-19:48). Not too long after Zuko opens up to Iroh and says, “It was nice.” (“The Tales of Ba Sing Se” 19:50-19:52) In the past Zuko would not have just ignored Iroh, however, Iroh has slowly become more important to Zuko over several years. Eventually, Zuko decides he does not need to kill the Avatar and stops worrying about what his father thinks. Zuko found someone better than his father in front of him all along. Iroh was able to teach Zuko the importance of peace and pull him away from a life of hatred. Iroh was able to give Zuko a long, peaceful life, something he would have done to his son if he had a second chance.
Even though Iroh helps others that are in need he cannot be redeemed without accepting the death of his son. In accepting the death of his son, he can move on and grow to be a better person. If Iroh did not accept his son’s death it would not mean anything. As the sun is setting to create a nice, warm tone across the land, Iroh comes to the top of a hill with a large tree on top. Iroh comes to rest under the tree’s giant branches full of leaves. He pulls out some rocks, candles, and a picture of his son from a picnic basket. After Iroh gets everything out and lights the candles he says, “Happy Birthday, my son. If only I could have helped you.” (“The Tales of Ba Sing Se” 08:20-08:29) Of course, Iroh still does feel the guilt of not being able to help his son, but instead of hiding this feeling, he comes to peace with it by celebrating his birthday. He knows that he cannot change the fate that his son had but know he can change the fate of others. Whether it is a stranger or a boy abandoned by his father who need help in the back of Iroh's mind he is thinking about his son.
Iroh has gone down a path of redemption by doing what he wanted for his son but to others in need of his advice. The people that Iroh helps are all very similar to his son and stuck on a path of bloodshed. Whenever Iroh helps he makes sure that what he is saying is helpful to them and what they can do. If that means it takes lots of time to help them find themselves, he will do it to make them better people. Although Iroh can no longer help his son he has redeemed himself by treating others with the same love he would have shown to his son.