James Sunderland (Silent hill 2 spoilers)

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TheHighWind

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#1  Edited By TheHighWind
Member since 2003 • 5397 Posts

Of all the game characters ever made James Sunderland is not easy to figure out. Some people flat out

say he murdered his wife. Others say it was like a mercy kill, like putting down a lame horse. His wife was a human being and she was dying of a horrible disease. James smothers her with a pillow because he either got tired of looking at her "ugly face" or wanted to put her out of her misery.

I think James is the grayest character in video games because there is no one else like him. He is sent to Silent Hill because of what he's done and has Maria thrown in his face.

The other characters who are real are there for there own reasons too:

The girl with the knife killed her father.

The fat guy killed people who made fun of him.

But did James simply do a mercy kill or did he really want her dead?

Did I miss something in the game? Is James really a murderer?

Discuss.

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JangoWuzHere

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#2 JangoWuzHere
Member since 2007 • 19032 Posts

I'm pretty sure the game implies that Sunderland killed Mary in an act of selfishness. Mary became a burden with her illness, so Sunderland was tired of looking after her. He became emotionally and sexually frustrated, so he killed her to free himself.

I don't see it at all as a "mercy" killing. I don't think anything in the game says that it was. He wouldn't be in Silent Hill if he thought he did the right thing.

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deactivated-5d68555a05c4b

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#3 deactivated-5d68555a05c4b
Member since 2015 • 1024 Posts

I always saw it as an act of selfishness, pretty sure the game said he did it because she had become a burden on him

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Byshop

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#4 Byshop  Moderator
Member since 2002 • 20270 Posts

My read was a bit different, and I think the overall tone and implication is different based on what ending you got. If you got the "Leave" ending, which is by far the happiest ending, the full letter from Mary basically absolves James. Yes, he killed her but I felt it was indeed a mercy killing, but that doesn't mean that James didn't feel trapped and partially hate Mary (something that the letter goes into). Of the "real" people in Silent Hill 2, I didn't get the impression that anyone was there because they were guilty of something. They were there because they were fundamentally broken in some way (except for Laura, which is also why she doesn't see any monsters in Silent Hill). Angela isn't there because she murdered her father. It's made pretty clear that he was abusive and she likely did what she needed to do to survive, but she -feels- like she should be punished for what she did. The same goes for James. He's there because -he's- not entirely sure of his own motives for euthanizing Mary. He wants to believe that he did it for her but whatever the truth is he believes that he should be punished for what he did. Getting over that (one way or another depending on your ending) is what allows James to finally leave.

If you get the “leave” ending, the implication is that James lets go of his guilt to move on with his life. If you get the Maria ending, where you kill Mary as the final boss instead of Maria, the implication is that he is over it because he’s replacing Mary with Maria. Then as they are leaving Maria starts coughing a bit and James casually (and incredibly ominously) tells her “you should do something about that cough”. That ending seemed to swing the needle a bit more from “mercy killing” to “murderer”. If you get the “in water” ending, James just gives up and kills himself so there’s no resolution one way or the other.

-Byshop

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Ish_basic

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#5  Edited By Ish_basic
Member since 2002 • 5051 Posts

angela killed her father because her father abused her. There's an enemy type called "the doorman" or "abstract daddy" that is a reflection of what haunts angela, and if you look closely at it, you can see two human forms, one on top of the other in an apparent missionary position. The larger silhouette resembles a four post bed.

@JangoWuzHere: He wouldn't be in Silent Hill if he thought he did the right thing.

Silent HIll is a reflection of someone's guilt, which is why the young child doesn't see anything. But that James isn't "innocent" like the girl doesn't imply that he did anything wrong. Guilt in an emotional context does not necessarily reflect the rightness or wrongness of one's actions. I mean, can you blame Angela for killing her father? Yet the ordeal haunts her.

James situation is confusing because Mary says different things depending on the ending. In one instance Mary says: "Don't make excuses, James. I know I was a burden on you. You must have hated me. That's why you got rid of me." But in another instance Mary says: "I told you that I wanted to die, James. I wanted the pain to end."

I think you can interpret it either way if you want, which is good. I can tell you from first hand experience that taking care of a terminally ill loved one that you "know" is dying in front of you can lead to feelings of guilt after. Even simple things like wanting to go out but not being able to because of the person you're caring for, and then feeling momentary anger over it...things you didn't think to do or things you could have done better...times you could have been more patient. Wondering if some of the choices you made were really what was best for that person or just what you wanted at the time and rationalized as being what's best for them.

Maria, to me, was always more a reflection of the life James wanted but couldn't have, the guilt he felt for wanting it, and the guilt he felt over in some part of his mind blaming Mary because he couldn't have it.

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Byshop

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#6 Byshop  Moderator
Member since 2002 • 20270 Posts

@Ish_basic and I are on the same page.

-Byshop

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#7 Ish_basic
Member since 2002 • 5051 Posts

@Byshop said:

@Ish_basic and I are on the same page.

-Byshop

pretty much. Didn't see your post before I made mine or I wouldn't have had to repeat everything.

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TheHighWind

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#8 TheHighWind
Member since 2003 • 5397 Posts

So you guys just think it's based on which ending you get?

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#9  Edited By Flubbbs
Member since 2010 • 4968 Posts

i think he did it for selfish reasons and for mercy..she was suffering from cancer and also he was tired of her. thats pretty much why he was drawn to Silent Hill because of the guilt to kill himself. Some of the members of Team Silent and even Guy Cihi have always said they believe the 'in water' ending is canon

I still think Silent Hill 2 is one of the best stories of all time in a video game

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#10  Edited By Shmiity
Member since 2006 • 6625 Posts

Tough question. It was probably left up to interpretation on purpose. It's hinted that he did it out of selfishness, but maybe it was for the best if she died. Mind blowing game, for sure.

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#11 Shmiity
Member since 2006 • 6625 Posts

@Flubbbs said:

i think he did it for selfish reasons and for mercy..she was suffering from cancer and also he was tired of her. thats pretty much why he was drawn to Silent Hill because of the guilt to kill himself. Some of the members of Team Silent and even Guy Cihi have always said they believe the 'in water' ending is canon

I still think Silent Hill 2 is one of the best stories of all time in a video game

I thought the same. "In water" seems to make sense. Also, I believe in that ending, her body is in the trunk of the car the whole time.

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#12  Edited By fend_oblivion
Member since 2006 • 6760 Posts

Silent Hill 2... damn. This game was really disturbing. It's been a while since I played the game...Here's what I thought of the story :

James really kills his wife. He not only has to deal with her dying slowly because of a horrible, disfiguring disease, but also deal with sexual frustration. Yes, sexual frustration. He is wrought with emotional trauma and really hurting, but it's the basal needs that pushes him over the edge and makes him snap. How many years does he have to resist his sexual urges? He kills her and then leaves to Silent Hill so that he can kill himself. He represses his own memory on the way because he realizes what line he crossed and the motivation behind it.

The nurse monsters you see could actually be the nurses James saw when his wife was in the hospital. In Silent Hill, these nurses have their head covered, wear mini-skirts, have big busts and their cleavage showing. Their heads are covered and emphasis is placed on the bust and groin regions (notice when the nurses die, their legs are wide open?). James was really sexually frustrated. I think it's not him killing his wife that he regrets (she's dying anyway), but because he wanted her gone so that he could fulfill his sexual urges. It's the shame that breaks him and makes him suicidal.

Excluding Pyramid Head, all the other enemies have some feminine aspect to them.

In the beginning of the game, we see James washing his face (in a dirty toilet, no less). It's like he's washing himself clean from his sins. This is evident from how he represses his memory and goes to Silent Hill thinking he got a posthumous letter from his wife.

To me, Silent Hill is not exactly an evil place. It only brings about the evil inside you. James and Mary cherished their time in Silent Hill when they started out as a couple. This was because they were innocent and they had no evil inside them, no guilt, and nothing to hide. This is also why Laura saw Silent Hill as an ordinary town. To the guilty, Silent Hill takes a monsterous appearance, fills it with monsters and then gives the choice of either facing one's inner demons, or to give up and die (either by their own hands or by hands of the monsters). Assuming you get the proper ending, James gets absolved and lives a guilt-free life.

And Maria? She's a creation of Silent Hill. If you get the ending where you make it out alive with her, Silent Hill is making James relive his time with Mary through her and then repeat the cycle of returning back to it till he dies or is strong enough to conquer his demons for good,

Maria is the ideal Mary to James. This is evident from the way Maria dresses and speaks. Silent Hill wants James to choose between his lust (Maria) and love (Mary). Only his love for Mary can absolve him from his sins.

Silent Hill also reveals one's hypocrisy - James is disgusted with his wife's face. All the enemies in Silent Hill are ugly and revolting. Though James can kill all the disgusting enemies like he kills Mary, he can't kill Pyramid Head because it is a projection of himself. Remember the Pyramid Head raping mannequins? It's like Silent Hill is telling James that there is no one more disgusting than him.

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#13 Flubbbs
Member since 2010 • 4968 Posts

@Shmiity: yup. Her body is in the trunk. Really messed up stuff

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#14 Ish_basic
Member since 2002 • 5051 Posts

@Flubbbs said:

@Shmiity: yup. Her body is in the trunk. Really messed up stuff

Ito said it was in the back seat, actually. It shows the depths of James delusion. That and the fact that he remembers her death as years ago when it was only days.

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#15 kaealy
Member since 2004 • 2179 Posts

The "water" ending is canon, so he's guilty as charged. Killed her out of sexual frustration.