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Offing The Offspring / Literature

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Offing the Offspring in literature.

  • Orson Scott Card:
    • Averted in The Tales of Alvin Maker. Alvin's father confesses to Talespinner that he's been having compulsions to try and kill Alvin (Talespinner walked in on a scene where Alvin's father was clearly getting ready to run his young son through with a pitchfork, for no reason whatsoever, and interrupted it.) Alvin's father admits he has no idea why he would be having urges to kill Alvin, whom he loves, but he can't seem to stop them. Talespinner counsels him to arrange for an apprenticeship for Alvin in a town quite a ways away from home because he thinks it's likely that Alvin's Dad will eventually lose control and try to kill the boy. Alvin's Dad takes this advice and Alvin survives.
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    • Hart's Hope, plays the trope straight. The evil Queen Beauty kills her infant child in order to acquire enough power to wreak havoc on the resident gods, and she conceives a second child in order to kill him and get more power.
  • Agatha Christie:
  • Stephen King:
    • In Carrie, the title character's mother was a religious fanatic who believed that her daughter was the spawn of the devil because of her telekinetic powers, and tried to kill Carrie once when she was a baby (the fact that Carrie may also have been a child by marital rape may have also contributed to this). When Carrie comes home to confront her mother during her telekinetic rampage after being pushed too far at her prom, she tries to kill Carrie once more, putting a knife into her daughter's shoulder before Carrie telekinetically stops her heart.
    • In It, Beverly's abusive father tries to kill her and chases her halfway around town in order to do so. Of course, IT was using him, but IT didn't put all of the thoughts in his head. Some of them were always there. "I worry about you, Bevvy. I worry a lot."
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    • In The Dark Tower book The Gunslinger, Roland must choose between his goal of The Dark Tower and a child he loves as a son, Jake. Roland chooses his obsession, the tower. It's OK though, Jake will come back. To be fair, Roland was completely torn between the two, not being able to choose, until Jake tells him to let go because the Tower was more important. But then again, Roland didn't hesitate after being told this... In the final book, The Dark Tower, Roland kills his half-demon son, Mordred, in his final battle before reaching the Tower.

  • Averted in The Bad Seed: Christine Penmark discovers that her seemingly perfect young daughter Rhoda is a sociopath, and knows that if Rhoda isn't killed, she will grow up to be a very effective murderess. After witnessing Rhoda killing a man firsthand, Christine finally gets the resolve to attempt a murder-suicide with her daughter... except Rhoda survives. Christine, the only person in the world who knew Rhoda's true nature, doesn't. This was bowdlerised in the movie by having both Christine and Rhoda survive the attempt, but with Rhoda dying soon after by being struck by lightning while attempting to hide further evidence of her true nature.
  • The Beast Player: Discussed. The inspector in the prologue tells a rumor that the Ahlyo would kill even their own children for breaking the Law. The rumor is groundless, however; as Nahson explains to Elin, the Law forbids them from taking a life except for food.
  • In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, a knight kills his daughter because men who intend to rape her have got her declared the maidservant of one of them. This is based on the legend of how the office of tribune was established in Rome: after a patrician had a beautiful plebeian girl falsely declared his slave so that a friend of his could rape her, her father stabbed her to death, roused the army to overthrow the patricians involved, and instituted the office of tribune, and then went to her grave to stab himself to death.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia: It turns out that Ta'a Chume had her own son killed because he was "too weak" in her estimation to serve as her heir. Isolder, her younger son who'd tracked down the pirate who'd pulled the trigger (only for him to then be murdered in prison before naming who ordered it), is horrified to realize that she was behind it.
  • Amber from Demon Road discovers that her only reason for being is to be killed by her parents and eaten as part of a demonic sacrifice. The novel's plot is a quest to prevent this.
  • This is mentioned from time to time in the Deryni books. Kelson recounts a tale about two princes executed by their father (an ancestor of his); he says his nurse told him the story and pointed out their graves on a visit to the family crypt in an effort to ensure his good behavior in the crypt. According to her Backstory, Charissa was once wed to a king of Torenth (Wencit's older brother); he beat her in a fit of rage while she was pregnant with his offspring, causing a miscarriage and leaving her sterile.
  • As is common with dogs, the protagonist's mother in A Dog's Life abandoned a deformed puppy soon after it was born.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Lord Raith, the Incubus head of the White Court vampires, adopts this attitude toward all of his male children: once they get old enough to be a threat, he kills them. The girl children he forces into sexual slavery to him. Not a nice guy. He meets his match when he tries to kill off his youngest adult son, Thomas, who happens to be the half-brother (on the mother's side, obviously) of Harry Dresden, the hero of the series. Thomas enlists Harry's help in bringing his father down, and then control of the White Court is handed off to Thomas' big sister Lara, who turns the tables on Daddy by seducing HIM into sexual slavery to HER instead.
    • In Cold Days the first order the new Winter Knight Harry Dresden receives from his Queen Mab is to kill Maeve. It is eventually revealed to be a Bad Seed option. Maeve is possessed by an ancient powerful force known only as Nemesis. With its power, it has given Maeve apparent freedom from her mother and Maeve now seeks to screw with her mother every possible way, from openly disrespecting her in front of the Winter Court and visiting delegates to trying to unleash ancient evil demi-gods. Maeve must be stopped at all cost. And in the end, Maeve is stopped. But despite all the evil Maeve did and tried to do, Mab couldn't bring herself to kill her because she loved her daughter.
  • Eddie LaCrosse: In The Sword-Edged Blonde, Queen Rhiannon is accused of doing this to her baby son as part of a ritual, but the King doesn't believe it and gets the protagonist to investigate.
  • The Elminster Series: In Making of a Mage Farl's father, the head magelord, tried to do this after learning about him (he also killed Farl's mother). The reason isn't revealed, though he presumably thought Farl was a threat somehow.
  • In False Memory, Dusty accuses his mother Claudette of murdering firstborn child Dominique (officially a "crib death") for having Down's Syndrome and later at least seriously considering murdering Dusty's prematurely born younger brother Skeet as an infant (another "crib death", it would seem), an event Dusty himself witnessed as a child. Claudette does not deny either accusation.
  • Rose frequently tries to kill Charlie throughout most of Flowers for Algernon. She says it is mercy upon him, and she doesn't want his sister to suffer. This certainly justifies constant attempts on his life and limb whenever he makes a minor infraction (going in his pants). Let us remember he has an I.Q. of about 50, meaning he doesn't know any better. She even stabs him in the neck for accidentally seeing his baby sister naked. Had it not been for his father, Matt, he'd be dead or in Warren State (which he eventually ended up in) a long time ago. She lunges at him with a knife when he was 30 just because he looked at his sister. Shockingly, no attempts to return the favor were made.
  • In the V. C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic, Corrine tries to poison her four children when her father's will states that if she had any children with her first husband who was her half-brother, then her inheritance would be forfeit. She manages to kill her son, Cory, and hide his body in the attic before her other children escape. She later claims that she was poisoning them in an attempt to make them sick, so she'd have an excuse to remove them from the attic one by one. Yeah, right.
  • Forest Kingdom: The final chapter of book 4 (Beyond the Blue Moon) reveals that King John IV is the murderer of his son Harald when Harald refused to change with the times and insisted on remaining an absolute monarch when it was clear that the time for such a role was past.
  • In The Girl Who Drank The Moon the people of the Protectorate are required to surrender the youngest child to the Witch in the forest on the Day of Sacrifice. No one is happy about it, making this a Choice of Abraham example.
  • In Pearl S Buck's The Good Earth it is strongly implied that O-lan killed her second daughter at birth during a terrible famine and drought then the family was desperately starving.
  • The YA novel The Grounding of Group 6 concerns a school that offers parents the service of quietly... disposing of their unwanted offspring.
  • In the Hurog duology, Ward thinks about how he will inherit Hurog - if he manages to not be killed by his father beforehand. The father is shown to be an extremely violent man, so that is a very realistic fear. It is implied that there have been cases of this in their family before.
  • I Am Mordred: Arthur tries to do this after Mordred is born at Merlin's urging, so he won't be killed by him in the future.
  • I, Claudius: Livia, who poisoned her husband, grandson, and everyone else who got in her way. She also arranged the death of her son Drusus, who was politically opposed to her.
  • Defied in The Inheritance Cycle—Arya once mentions the historical case of an elf who learned through prophecy that he would kill his own son, and managed to avert it by killing himself instead.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars: In Chessman of Mars, the jeddak O-Tar — a Royal Brat and Dirty Coward — has clearly evil intentions toward his son A-Kor, imprisoning him. One of his men, under orders, repeats rumors, among which
    they blame you for your treatment of A-Kor, whom they all believe to have been murdered at your command.
  • The Legend of Drizzt:
    • In the books (indeed, in Dungeons & Dragons in general), the Drow elves traditionally sacrifice their third-born sons to their goddess, Lolth. The superfluous ones seem to be sold into slavery. Drizzt himself was going to meet this fate until one of his brothers died in battle around the time he was born, thus fulfilling the sacrifice requirement and allowing Drizzt to live.
    • Moreover, Drow consider the killing of physically imperfect offspring to be their duty. Because they so proud and love beauty. So it's a case of "demerits as an extension of merits". Drizzt's purple eyes nearly got him killed for this reason until his family confirmed that they weren't a sign of blindness.
    • And if you think Lolth or her Drow are nasty... Mad beholders in Dungeons & Dragons are extremely xenophobic: each considers its phenotype ideal and "pure" and destroys others for any difference. Their own offspring as well as strangers. This also means the whole race is embroiled in a constant war between different breeds, as beholders are very flexible species, they are very capable of spotting minor differences and most are mad (thanks to crazy matriarch deity).
  • The Mortal Instruments: In City of Heavenly Fire, Asmodeus wants to take his son Magnus' immortality to use as an energy source to repair all the damage Sebastian did to Edom.
  • Perfume: Grenouille's mother was a fish lady who used to immediately kill all of her newborn offspring. Grenouille was loud enough to attract the attention of a customer, thus saving his life. His mother was executed for multiple counts of infanticide after the Parisian police investigated the matter.
  • The Plot: In the book-within-the-book, Diandre/Samantha kills her daughter Ruby/Maria. In the book itself, Dianna kills her daughter Rose and assumes her identity, using her daughter's scholarship at the University of Georgia.
  • In The Satanic Verses, Rekha Merchant pushes her children ahead of her when she commits suicide by jumping off a building.
  • In Septimus Heap, Queen Etheldredda killed her own daughters so that she may be queen forever. Subverted, since she doesn't manage to kill Esmeralda, who eventually succeeds her after her disappearance in Physik.
  • In The Shahnameh, the "holy" Shah Goshtasp has spread the Zoroastrian faith by the sword all over Iran and declared himself the sacred ruler of the Empire. However, he does have one problem: His Crown Prince Esfandyar in addition to being immensely popular with the warriors, the newly established clergy and the commoners was raised by Zoroaster himself, and blessed by him with invincibility. Unlike his father, Esfandyar is a genuine Nice Guy and everybody thinks he would make a much better ruler. Goshtasp is getting old, by law, he should retire from the throne but he doesn't want to. He is both jealous and afraid of his son, so he tries to kill him in some way that doesn't ruin publicity (Also, Esfandyar being as sacred as he is, whoever spills his blood will be cursed and Goshtasp wants to avoid that). So, Esfandyar's life is basically a series of impossible missions designed to get him killed which he keeps actually completing. He slays gigantic wolves, gigantic lions, a dragon, an evil witch, a Simurgh, and its two offsprings, he survives a desert and a storm, captures an impregnable castle, but is finally (barely) defeated by his best friend, who Goshtasp had manipulated Esfandyar into starting a Civil War with. On his last breath, Esfandyar tells Rostam not to worry about the curse as the true killer was none other than Goshtasp.
  • In Sharp Objects, it is revealed that Adora, who has Munchausen by proxy, killed her daughter Marian by poisoning the girl under the guise of giving her medicine. Around two decades later, she almost succeeds in repeating history with her other daughters before she is finally arrested.
  • In The Shattered Kingdoms, the Norlanders have a rule of abandoning the physically impure, and it extends to children. The governor appointed to rule the Shadari had one case in his family - a daughter with burn marks on her arm. The mother, Eleana, refused to follow tradition and hid the daughter, but her husband eventually found out and applied it anyway. It was on an attempt to find and rescue her daughter that Eleana died. The daughter did not die as expected, however, and subsequently returned.
  • In Ship Breaker, alcoholic drug-addict and Archnemesis Dad Richard Lopez attempts to kill his son, Nailer, in a Knife Fight when the latter opposes his decision to sell Nita's organs on the black market. Luckily the fight goes against him, and it's Richard who ends up dead.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Eöl attempts to kill his own son Maeglin for running away from home, and ends up slaying his wife instead. When his brother-in-law Turgon sentences him to death by being thrown from the walls of Gondolin Eöl says Maeglin will die in the same way. They do. In an earlier draft, published as "The Shibboleth of Fëanor" in The Peoples of Middle-Earth, Fëanor accidentally killed one of his sons.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Samwell Tarly's father is so disgusted with his fat, timid son, that he takes the boy out into the woods and threatens to cut out his heart unless he "takes the black" (vowing to serve as a soldier at a distant post and renounce all claim to family, land, and title) and clears the way for the favored son, Dickon, to inherit the Tarly name and lands.
    • Also, Craster sacrifices all of his infant sons to the Others.
    • In the second book, Tywin puts Tyrion - who has no fighting experience - on the front lines of a battle in the weakest position on the field, knowing he will likely die there. When that fails, he ignores the problem for a while until Tyrion is accused of kinslaying. Tywin pulls out all the stops and drums up as many lies and circumstantial evidence as he can to hopefully get his son executed. This backfires when Tyrion becomes an actual kinslayer.
    • In the North, Old Nan tells the Stark children the tale of the Rat Cook. He was a cook of the Night's Watch, who killed a king's son, cooked him into a pie, and fed him to the king. For this violation of Sacred Hospitality, the gods transformed him into a massive rat who could not eat anything but his own offspring.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Words of Radiance:
    • In one of Shallan's flashbacks, we see her father beating his son Balat with a fireplace poker, which is why Balat needs a cane in The Way of Kings. Her father would have killed him, if Shallan hadn't poisoned her father, then strangled him with a necklace when that failed to finish him off.
    • Also in Words of Radiance, Shallan's mother. Shallan came into her Surgebinding skills at a very young age, only for it to turn out that her mother belonged to a cult that thought the return of Surgebinders meant the return of the Desolations. She tried to kill Shallan, and Shallan summoned her spren as a Shardblade and killed her. Her father took the blame, which is what resulted in him slowly transforming into a violent and dangerous drunk.
  • In Tales of Kolmar, Lanen's father promised to sacrifice her to demons before she was even born. That promise netted him the Farseer, a Magic Mirror like item. Lanen's mother immediately stole the Farseer and ran away, leaving the father wracked with pains in his leg. In Song in the Silence, Marik finds Lanen as a grown woman and wants to finish what had been started. He hesitates but that leg pain was more convincing than the thought of familial loyalty.
  • Morgan Sloat, perhaps contrary to what you might expect, loves his son a great deal in The Talisman. Morgan of Orris, however, could care less. It causes some issues between the two. Eventually Sloat is either taken over or corrupted by Orris into seeing his son as nothing more than an obstacle, at which point you can mostly consider Sloat dead.
  • In Taras Bulba, the main character kills his youngest son Andrei after he has a Face–Heel Turn and sells himself out to the Polish - possibly the modern origin of the "I gave you birth, and I shall kill you" quote.
  • Things Fall Apart:
    • Okonkwo kills Ikemefuma, who was his adopted son by that point. The death had been ordained by the tribe's oracle in a deliberate retelling of the Abrahamic legend (notably, Okonkwo's oldest biological son later changes his name to Isaac).
    • The book also frequently brings up the practice of parents abandoning baby twins to die in the forest, since the Igbo believed them to be evil omens.
  • In Selma Lagerlof's Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness!, main character David's much-abused wife, having crossed the Despair Event Horizon due to all the Domestic Abuse, decides to kill their children and then herself in Christmas's Eve. David, who has been subjected to a huge Break the Haughty that included his own temporary death, manages to prove her that he has changed for the best, so she changes her mind.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:
    • Aunt Sissy saves a young woman from this fate. Her father had locked her in the basement and given her starvation rations after finding out she was pregnant out of wedlock. He hoped that she would miscarry or die in childbirth and relieve him of the burden.
    • Katie also says that if the day ever comes when she has to live on charity, she'll wait until her children are asleep, seal the apartment and turn on the gas jets.
  • A heartbreaking example in The Unconquered by W. Somerset Maugham. Annette drowns her Child by Rape on the same day he is born, since she wants his Nazi father, who has grown to love his future son, to feel at least some of the pain she has been put through. She has also grown attached to her son, so she kills him as early as possible because she's afraid she won't have the heart to do it later, and breaks down sobbing after it's done.
  • Chapter 29 of Utopia 58 reveals that Kay's wife, Christine, murdered their son Peter after Peter got Kay arrested by the Equapol, which resulted in Kay being tortured for eight years.
  • In The Vampire Chronicles Akasha annihilates most of her vampire progeny as part of her plan to create a new world order.
  • In Void City, while Eric has sired a number of other vampiric "children" over the years, he has ended up having to kill nearly all of them when they've turned against him. Phillipus implies that this is fairly common and that he intentionally sires two vampires per year in the hope that some of them will eventually develop into enemies capable of amusing him over the long millennia of his life.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
    • In Shards of Honor, the ancient and ruthless Barrayaran Emperor Ezar gave the nod to an invasion of Escobar he knew could not be won (thanks to a tech breakthrough by Escobar's ally Beta Colony) as a smokescreen to blow up the flagship containing his Axe-Crazy son Crown Prince Serg and politically wreck the expansionist factions that supported and hoped to manipulate him. Contains a bit of Deliberate Values Dissonance, as he could have assassinated his son in any number of ways, but by orchestrating a war for Serg to die in, Ezar allowed him to die in the heat of battle, the most honorable death a Barrayan can have while also taking out Serg's supporters, who would be left intact if he was simply assassinated.
    • There's also the fate of "mutie" infants (genuine or suspected) among traditionalist country folk, and historically among all Barrayarans during the Time of Isolation.
  • The Warrior Cats series has a "bad seed" example: Brokentail, villainous ex-leader of ShadowClan is poisoned by his mother, Yellowfang. The mother in question regards this act as her atonement for having brought such an evil cat into the world. Yellowfang killed him twice in fact due to how Clan leaders have nine lives. She blinded and killed him but Brokentail (then called Brokenstar) came back to life afterward.
  • Averted in The Watcher by James Howe (of Bunnicula fame). The title character, whose real name is Margaret, lives with a violently abusive father and a passive, fearful mother. Her father tries to kill her by drowning her in the kitchen sink, but the two other main characters rescue her and then her mother turns on her father at last.
  • Played straight in Tanith Lee's Snow White adaptation White as Snow where the princess' mother, not her stepmother, is trying to kill her.
  • Whateley Universe: Multiple, usually to do with Human Sacrifice:
    • In a roundabout way, with adopted children being killed by their adopted parents, was supposedly part of a plan of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, Mephisto claims that the purpose of his "Satanikos" scam — a purported "Satanic Child Abuse Conspiracy" — was intended to undermine a very real plan by the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom to arrange fake "adoptions" of children so they could sacrifice them to demons in exchange for power.
    • From Silver Linings 2 (Parts 2-9), Deirdre assumes that that's what her mother, Pandora, intended to do with her, since a sacrifice of something loved, was needed for the spell at hand, and Pandora had nothing else to satisfy that requirement except her own daughter, Deirdre. Deirdre saw that, and flipped it around, into Matricide.
  • The Wolves of Paris: The protagonist's mother accidentally killed his siblings. She was a captured wolf who lived in a kennel with hundreds of dogs. Fearing the dogs would hurt her pups, she'd grab a pup, run around, and push them into a crack. By the end of the day, only one pup had been left alive.


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