When you’ve hurt someone deeply, irrevocably, how do you move forward knowing that you’ve produced so much pain? How can you live a joyous life when you’ve destroyed others?
Violet Evergarden’s confrontation of her sins begins with her profession. She always gives her name to clients after first introducing her role as a doll for her memoir service. A doll is indeed a apt way to describe the teenager, first as a puppet for the military, a weapon used to efficiently kill in battle, and then as a beautiful transcriber and writer who, like a doll, is lacking emotion. So while Dietfried expresses disbelief that Violet has changed professions from a killer of men to one who joins people together through words, perhaps the transition isn’t surprising at all.
As Violet engages co-workers and clients through her work at CH Postal Company, she comes to learn more about human emotions and thus, herself. By episode seven, Claudia’s prophecy is coming true; as Violet becomes self aware, the flame she ignited through her actions is burning her up. The tragedy she causes, and the tragedy she lives through, is now setting Violet aflame.
The road to this emotional summit passes through a tranquil setting, however. Violet is called to the summer cottage of a Oscar Webster, a famed playwright, who has become an alcoholic following the death of his daughter. As has been the case throughout, he achievers personal growth by spending time with Violet; she reminds him of his daughter and helps Oscar both to complete his play and his daughter’s story. This time, however, Violet—who has steadily become more and more human as each assignment occurs—is the one who is changed the most, though unlike her client, it’s in a most unsettling way.
Episode seven of Violet Evergarden begins with one of the Oscar’s plays, as the central character closes the production by killing a king (his father?) and exclaiming, “I’ll have to bear this cross for the rest of my life.” This same burden strikes Violet as well when she speaks to the playwright about the promise his daughter made to him. Violet is able to step in and bring it fruition, but she later realize that her role as a super soldier inhibited many other promises from being kept, instead laying them strewn on fields filled with men whom she killed, broken and forever unfulfilled.
It’s too much for Violet to bear. She begins to deal with the guilt she feels, leading to a rush of anxiety and tears. It’s made all the worse when she discovers that Gilbert, her major, is indeed dead, and confirms as much with Claudia.
Violet’s breakthrough is made possible through the relationships she develops (it appears she only had one genuine one, that with Gilbert, before becoming an auto memory doll) as she learns to empathize, to care, and to love. Oscar’s play, as great works can do, conveys truth without heavy-handedness, while he himself, broken and mournful, demonstrates to Violet what others have along the way as well, that our connections to one another aren’t merely of function, but of emotional, physical, spiritual bonds. When rendered apart, they leave carnage of the soul.
And that’s where Violet is dwelling now, torn apart by the actions in her past, and by the actions of her beloved, too, who sacrificed himself to rescue her. It’s a place of deep misery that is difficult to overcome. Violet questions whether she even should, whether she deserves to follow Gilbert’s order and live.
As Violet continues to reflect and continues to hurt, perhaps she’ll learn something else, though. When promises are broken, when relationships are dashed, when loved ones are lost, there is hope. We may never be able to pay for the sins we’ve perpetrated, but our actions thereafter can lead to promises anew, and as they are fulfilled, which cannot happen should we lay forever in a ditch of guilt and pain, we may even find that the crosses we carry will be lifted from us, not because we earned it, but through relationship—the way it was meant to be removed all along.