Are Molly and Case sympathetic?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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If you mean "does the reader think of Molly and Case as sympathetic characters," then my answer is "sometimes."  Normally I would think that is a cop-out answer, but in Gibson's Neuromancer, I really think it fits.  

The problem I have with being entirely sympathetic toward both Molly and Case is that they are not honorable characters.  As protagonists they are dark anti-heroes.  Molly is an emotional, murdering train wreck.  She's a killing machine that is bent on revenge.  Case is a lawbreaking drug addict who can barely take care of himself let alone his former girlfriend.

Both characters are stuck on their pasts.  Case is bitter at having lost the ability to hack and will do just about anything to try to relive those lawless glory days.  Molly is a former "meat puppet."  After that, her boyfriend was killed, and her life fell apart because she tried to blackmail the Yakuza.  I have a hard time being sympathetic toward characters who intentionally make bad decisions that ruin their lives. 

On the other hand, I do sympathize with Molly.  She was used as a meat puppet, and her pimp loaned her out for some weird snuff film stuff.  She's got a lot of baggage from her past and is emotionally scarred because of it.  How she deals with her rage doesn't make me sorry for her, but the reason for all of her anger is understandable to me.  

I can empathize with Case too.  He made a bad decision by working with Armitage to get his skills back.  What makes me sympathize with him is that Armitage has a lot of leverage over Case because of the toxic seeds within Case after his procedure. It just doesn't seem fair. Granted, Case is back to breaking the law, but the toxin seems way over the top.  I'm also sympathetic toward Case because it really does seem like he is trying to do right by people after he gets his hacker skills back.  He makes peace with Linda and risks his life to save Molly.  Both of those events cause me to admire Case. So yes, I do sympathize with him when bad things start happening again. 

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