I have been a part of the “Buffy Verse” fandom for quite a while now, and this has actually been something I’ve wanted to discuss but didn’t have the means to as not that many of my peers have seen this show. And I have my opinion about a lot of characters some good some bad but there’s some that I feel people are too hard on, Dawn being one of them. This blog seems like the perfect place to share my feelings about this character.
To fairly and fully defend Dawn Summers then I have to introduce you to her character in the show. Disclaimer her story is going to mention the loss of family members, mention of bullying and a mention of self-harm.
Dawn Summers was introduced as Buffy’s little sister to the series at the end of the first episode of season 5, her debut shocked the viewers quite a bit as there hadn’t been a mention of Dawn having any siblings (although looking back there was foreshadowing, one of which even having a character mention that a, “little sis was coming), but in my opinion this implies that one was soon to be born, but Dawn was fourteen when she appeared on the show. The most perplexing part about Dawn’s arrival is that the other characters were treating her as if she had been there the whole time, but this wasn’t the case. You see Dawn wasn’t actually Buffy’s sister, well not always. She was actually a “ball of energy” or “key” that had been transformed into a girl and sent to Buffy to be protected from “Glorificus” or Glory, a god/goddess who was stuck on earth and Dawn was her key to get back to her dimension. The monks even distorted reality as to not raise any eyebrows about Dawn’s appearance, which is why everyone was acting as if Dawn was already there cause they geniunely thought she was.
The reason I’m presenting you with this information is the give you some insight into Dawn’s story before my defense. Now some people have deemed Dawn as whiny, bratty, and ungrateful. People even have compared Buffy’s life to Dawn, saying that Buffy’s had the harder life, implying that Dawn’s life was somehow easy. Now I don’t deny that Buffy has had a hard life, after all she’s been slaying demons since she was a sophomore in high school. However, I don’t think that people take into account how traumatizing her experiences could be for someone.
So I will be listing these experiences in a numbered list.
1 . Finding out she was a key.
Buffy did a good job at hiding Dawn’s true identity for her for a while but eventually she did find out. This understandably sent her into a crisis, in which she wounded herself to prove she was human. I don’t think people fully grasp how world shattering this revelation could be for someone, realizing that every memory you have didn’t actually happen and that they were orchestrated by these mystical beings to essentially play a game of hide and seek with a nutjob demon goddess. To find out that the last 14 years of your life never happened.
2. Her mother’s death
Soon after her whole period of questioning of her humanity, Dawn (and Buffy) lost the only mother she’d ever known to brain aneurysm in the fifth season. I think this speaks for itself, i recognize Buffy also lost her mother but I don’t think people account that she was Dawn’s mom too.
3. Buffy’s death.
Buffy later died in finale of the fifth season, in order to save Dawn. However, Buffy wasn’t gone long due to the nature of her death and the powers of her witchy best friend Willow Rosenberg who was able to resurrect her (an event I also hold many opinions about). Now I don’t think I need to mention how losing two of the most important people in her life could affect her.
4. Feeling like a burden.
Due to Glory’s persistent nature and literal god like capabilities she wasn’t very keen on letting people get between her and Dawn (her key). Going as so far as to hurt people, including Dawn’s loved ones to get there. At one point leaving Tara (a big role model in Dawn’s life and Willow’s girlfriend) a shell of her former self after sucking the sanity out of her. Dawn obviously felt responsible of all of this even going as far as referring to herself as a “lightning rod of pain”.
5. Tara’s death.
After a haunting encounter where Warren (one part and the ringleader of this evil trio that had been terrorizing Buffy) intending to kill Buffy, came into their backyard with a weapon where he struck Buffy (who ended up surviving) but ended accidentally hitting Tara fatally wounding her. Tara was very important person to Dawn, whom she sort of had restricted contact with due to the awkward tensions of her being around after her and Willow’s breakup(they ended up getting back together right before she died. But Tara’s loss was very hard on Dawn, who found her laying on floor hours after her death.
6. Willow’s chaos.
Willow went through a period where she was abusing magic hardcore (something Joss Wheadon used as an analogy to drug abuse, something I want to discuss, but that’s most likely a whole other blog post) but in the midst of her addiction she put Dawn in great danger almost getting both of them killed in the process. Willow was eventually able to get clean but after losing Tara, she lost it and went on a crazy magic binger and ended killing Warren and attempting to kill his two other friends. Her Dawn ended up being confronted with one another in which she threatened to turn Dawn back into a ball of magic after Dawn tried to get Willow to end her chaos. Even saying she would be much happier with dawn gone.
7. Dawn’s insecurity
Dawn attending the same school Buffy once did is obviously regarded as just “Buffy’s little sister” but you see this come full force when they were both put under a love spell and ended up competing for the same guy. Soon after she caught Buffy kissing him and Willow and Anya got involved Dawn decided she didn’t stand a chance at competing with Buffy, so she decided to stand in front of a train in order to give up her life to prove her love for him. Buffy ended saving her and they later put an end to the whole spell.
After all these events combined with just being a normal teenage girl, I can understand some of Dawn’s whiny behavior. I think people could’ve been easier on her character.