I'm a little biased here.
I like Mothwing, and I have never stopped liking her. This is a rare chance for Shelly to gush.
But I'll be fair.
This blog contains the opinions of someone that has been reading and interpreting Warriors for almost a decade. The views presented may be harsh and/or offensive, but please know that a lot of thought has been put into them before they have been presented to you. Please remember this when you comment, as this writer will expect you to back up your opinions with facts at least 90% of the time.
Mothwing is an interesting and complex character. Honestly, she's in my top three for favourite characters.
Ya'see, before her, the only other Clan cat we had that openly had no belief in StarClan was Cloudtail. Cloudtail's great and all, but he has had this habit in the past of insulting the religion that drives his Clanmates, the shared faith that holds the Clans together in both fear and reverence. Cloudtail lacks tact, basically. Being an agnostic myself, I've long since learned that insulting someone's faith is both childish and unintelligent. People all have their reasons for their faith, and in most cases I can agree with those reasons. Cloudtail, especially in his youth, openly mocked StarClan around those whose entire lives had been based on their belief in their celestial ancestors.
But then you get Mothwing. And everything that makes her better than that can be summed up in a single quote:
"I'll always be here if you need me. I may not share your faith, but I will always help you fight for what you believe in."
She shows tact, respect, and even reverence for a religion she has no faith in. Though she does openly insult Jayfeather's blind faith (no pun intended) in StarClan at some points, she did have valid reasons to do so: Jayfeather and the rest of the medicine cats were being unreasonable and stubborn, and their actions, as dictated by StarClan, were putting the Clans in even more danger than they already were. So Mothwing's jabs at StarClan, in this case, are understandable, unlike Cloudpaw openly scolding Fireheart for saying "Thank StarClan" and instead telling the Clan that StarClan didn't exist.
Anyway, I better stop ragging on Cloudtail lest Cloudy come in here and kick my butt. Onto my main topics.
Faith vs. Belief
Though in the beginning Mothwing explains to Leafpool that everything she experienced and credited to StarClan could easily be explained as coincidence and de ja vu, later on Mothwing speaks of StarClan differently.
Even though she continues to state that she has no faith in StarClan, she says just that. She has no faith. She doesn't state that she doesn't believe in StarClan. Even though the Hunters have stated that Mothwing has begun believing in StarClan ever since the final battle in The Last Hope, I don't think this is entirely accurate.
Basically, I think she has had belief in StarClan for quite a while.
Think about it. She was the medicine cat of RiverClan and the cat that saw to Leopardstar's needs in her final days. She saw a cat die and come back to life several times. You can't really explain that away.
I think that Mothwing's story is a bit more confused than the cut and dry one we are presented with.
You'll recall that, in the beginning, Mothwing did believe in StarClan. The first time she went to the Moonstone with Leafpaw and the others to be giver her place as a medicine cat apprentice, she even shared dreams with StarClan. She seemed so excited and happy to have this special place in the Clan despite her non-Clan origin.
How tragic that her own brother tore that faith away from her.
I think that, for a time after Hawkfrost revealed his trick to her, Mothwing may have lost belief entirely in StarClan, but after seeing her leader die and come back along with likely countless other indications from Willowshine that the faith governing the Clans may have some credence to it, she must have regained her belief. But I don't think she regained her faith, which is why she remained unable to share dreams with StarClan.
And I honestly cannot blame her. Many of the actions taken by StarClan have been detrimental to the Clans. As I've pointed out before, it is very much the fault of StarClan that the Dark Forest formed into an army and attacked the Clans. And finding out that StarClan did not actually choose her to be the medicine cat apprentice showed that they had no faith in her initially, which is reason enough for her to want to return the favor.
However, no matter how much I like Mothwing, there are faults to her as a character.
The medicine cat of a Clan is a religious figurehead. Medicine cats must see and interpret signs and dreams from StarClan in order to help their Clan foresee future dangers and keep out of trouble.
Mothwing cannot do this for RiverClan. Sure, now Willowshine can do so, but Mothwing was the sole medicine cat for months before her apprentice was even born.
Basically, Mistystar was right in Mistystar's Omen to be worried about Mothwing's lack of faith, though the new leader did act a bit rashly. Mothwing's lack of faith is basically a gaping hole in RiverClan's defenses. On top of that, Willowshine's training is somewhat lacking. I can't imagine that the young cat could learn much from Leafpool in her dreams. What Leafpool could not teach her, she probably had to learn herself, which likely delayed her training quite a bit.
Though I don't think Mothwing ought to lose her job, especially now that she has solid belief in StarClan once more, I think she ought to have been more open to her Clanmates about this thing that could have meant their blissfully unaware doom. And I think StarClan could have easily shown itself to her when she began to lose faith, in order to reinforce her belief in StarClan. They had no trouble doing so in The Last Hope, why would a less bloody time be more inconvenient?
But there's still tons of good to Mothwing as well.
I write now as both a fan of the books and as an aunt with young nieces that are asking me for books to read.
Mothwing is an ideal way to present the idea of different beliefs and faiths to children. Her inclusion in the plot as a serious and professional character and medicine cat subliminally teaches religious tolerance to those reading the books. The entirety of Mistystar's Omen, in fact, was a cautionary tale about religious tolerance. Mistystar cast off her bond with Mothwing and forced Mothwing to retire simply because of her lack of faith, but then realized (through ridiculous visual butterfly metaphor) that Mothwing is a competent healer on her own and that her beliefs shouldn't shape how Mistystar sees her.
So I'm just overjoyed that that whole character arc happened.
And... honestly, I just friggin love Mothwing. She's a talented female medicine cat that has never been seen as being tempted to mate and have kits or betray the Clan she serves in any way.
I know this blog might seem a bit rambling, but I wanted to get my thoughts about this character out. Care to discuss?