Posted on February 15 2015 by C. M. Lanning
Majora’s Mask is a mysterious Zelda title full of many different themes and identities. The land of Termina was so surreal compared to Hyrule that it just lent itself to many interpretations and ideals. Perhaps one of the biggest themes in the recently-remade title is loneliness.
I’ve already touched upon
Link’s loneliness in a previous article concerning what he really lost when Navi left him at the end of Ocarina of Time, so I won’t focus on the hero for this article. The main point of my previous article was to highlight Link’s frustrations at not being remembered as the Hero of Time and how he desperately went to find Navi because she was the only one who remembered the events of the Adult Timeline while still existing in the Child Timeline.
Instead of Link, I want to start with another character from
Majora’s Mask… Skull Kid. It isn’t too far into the game before a cutscene is delivered that shows a sympathetic take on the alleged villain of the game. In it, Skull Kid had left the land of Hyrule and somehow ended up in Termina. We don’t know how many times Skull Kid had been to Termina in the past, but we know he had been there prior to meeting his two fairy friends Tatl and Tael. This is established because he had a friendship with the four giants of the land.
It’s those four giants and their relationship with Skull Kid that eventually drives him down a path of loneliness. Or rather, when the four giants leave him behind, he interprets their actions to mean that they either don’t like him anymore, or they’d forgotten about him. Understandably, he was upset, and if he felt ignored, he’d go through great lengths to get their attention again.
The friendship between Skull Kid and the giants must have been strong. Maybe they were the first real beings to even pay attention to him. We already know that because of his mischief (and perhaps his appearance) that no one in Clock Town wanted anything to do with him. The giants paying attention to him must have felt great; the outcast finally had friends, four of them! Maybe they played games, or more importantly, maybe they just sat and listened to the problems of a depressed individual who got lost in the woods as a child and died alone as a result, becoming a skull kid.
For the first time since taking on his present form, Skull Kid had friends to love and hold him. He must have been ecstatic. Then, at some point, they disappeared, leaving him all alone once again. The pain from their disappearance must have been devastating, causing more grief than Skull Kid had when he was alone before meeting the giants.
This brings me back to the first cutscene in the game that paints a sympathetic portrait of the enemy known as Skull Kid. The scene shows two fairies, cold and wet, looking for shelter outside of the swamp in Termina. They find a hollowed out fallen tree to hide under. This gets them out of the rain, but they’re still cold and wet.
In the silence, they hear a wheeze and then another. Looking down, they find an imp who is also cold and wet. Taking pity on him, the two fairies huddle together with the imp for warmth until the storm passes. Eventually the three become friends, and this must have caused Skull Kid to become a happy individual once more. They played games, made music, and formed a strong bond through companionship.
Still, despite making new friends, there was a bitterness in Skull Kid’s heart toward the giants. How could they just leave and forget about him like they did? Although he was happy to have new friends, these two fairies could not possibly fill the entire void in Skull Kid’s heart that formed as a result of the giants leaving him behind.
Skull Kid eventually runs into the
Happy Mask Salesman, loots his bag while the salesman sleeps, and finds Majora’s Mask. The mask, being filled with evil desire, takes advantage of Skull Kid’s anger and lament toward the giants. And eventually, the heinous mask drives him to a point of insanity where he is deranged enough to destroy an entire land, just to get back at the giants that supposedly abandoned him.
Link eventually stops Skull Kid and reunites him with the giants. It is there that the giants inform Skull Kid they never forgot about him. They then reconcile with their hurt friend. After they leave once more, Skull Kid rejoins his two fairies and prepares to enjoy a carnival with them, the void in his heart filled once more.
Goron Elder’s Son
Most may not consider the
Goron Elder’s son to be much more than a whining brat that needs to be put to sleep, but consider why the child is crying in the first place.
The child is lonely and cold. A snowy curse has been placed on the Gorons’ home, and they’re all going to die if the curse isn’t lifted. Gorons, as a rock race, like it hot. They can’t swim, and they hate the cold. Most of the time, they’re found living in or near volcanoes. The eternal winter placed on Snowhead is slowly driving the race into extinction, and as the mountain range is their home, they can’t simply let it go.
Back to the child, though, the Goron Elder is named as his father.
Darmani is probably like an older brother to the child. Both are missing when Link arrives in the mountains. The Gorons already know Darmani is dead from trying to tackle the Snowhead issue on his own; they even made him a grave.
The child may not know about Darmani being dead, but he certainly knows that he has been missing for a while. If the two really do have a brother-like relationship, that makes it all the more depressing when one realizes that Darmani is dead. The child would take solace in the loving arms of his father, but the Goron Elder, too, leaves to go combat the Snowhead issue on his own.
As a result, the child is left alone. Facing their annihilation, the Goron village certainly isn’t full of hope. Instead, it’s gloomy and quiet, aside from the child’s cries. Unable to even cry himself to sleep without his father’s lullaby, the child is miserable. So, he expresses himself in the only way he can, with tears and wails of misery. He wants his father. He wants his friend. Neither can be found.
Fortunately, we know this tale, too, has a happy ending. Link comes along and saves the Elder Goron, so he can eventually be reunited with his son. Link also defeats the curse at Snowhead, ensuring the survival of the Goron species.
Another young lonely individual in Majora’s Mask is Pamela. Her father is disfigured and eventually becomes a partial Gibdo. Pamela’s father moved the two out into Ikana Canyon to study the undead and other paranormal lifeforms.
No one else lives in Ikana Canyon except for
Dampe in the graveyard, so it’s likely that is where Pamela’s isolation begins. There are no other kids to play with, no people to talk with, and the only other living person in the canyon is her father. And thanks to a curse, she eventually starts to lose him, too. He turns more and more into a Gibdo, and soon other Gibdo appear, surrounding Pamela’s home, refusing to leave.
The panic would be overwhelming for anyone but especially a little girl. She’s trapped in a decaying land crawling with hostile members of the living dead. She cannot go for help, as Clock Town his terribly far for a little girl to travel on her own. Who else can she turn to for assistance? Dampe? If she does know him, she certainly doesn’t trust him, or she would have probably asked for his help.
No hope, dwindling resources like food and water, and a sick father all contribute to mounting pressure that a girl her age shouldn’t have to carry on her own. Fortunately, Link comes along, as he does for just about everyone else in the game, and saves the day. He cures her father and drives off the undead, allowing the tiny family of two to continue their existence together.
The Deku Butler
Wrapping up this article: I wanted to touch upon perhaps the loneliest soul in all of Termina, the Deku Butler. Link first meets the Deku Butler after finding the Deku Princess and returning the swamp to normal.
The Deku Butler is ordered by the king to give Link an item as a sort of thanks for his assistance. Link goes to a shrine to meet the butler, and he kind of challenges Link to a race. This brief competition relights a joy in the butler’s heart that he hadn’t felt since his son left the Deku Palace for unknown reasons. He tells Link that after the race is completed.
The butler says he felt like he was racing his son again. This combined with Link’s appearance stirred emotions in the butler, and he reveals to Link that his son has been gone for quite some time. He also reveals that he doesn’t know where his son is or even if he is okay.
After the game is beaten and the doorway under the Clock Tower is reopened, the Deku Butler ventures outside of Termina to find his missing son. We see him weeping in front of a dead Deku in a short clip, and it is presumed that it is his son. It is the same one that Link runs into before he enters Clock Town shortly after being turned into a Deku himself.
It’s a widely-accepted theory among many fans that since the other transformative masks house souls of the dead (like Darmani the Goron), it is the butler’s son whose soul is trapped inside the Deku mask. Although it isn’t confirmed or explained, it seems that Skull Kid, using Majora’s Mask, ripped the soul of the butler’s son out of his body and used it to turn Link into a Deku. Then, when Link is healed, the soul stays trapped in the mask.
If this is the reality, it’s certainly all the more depressing because this is one problem in the game Link cannot solve. The Deku Butler finds his son, weeps over his corpse, and that’s the end. There is no bringing him back to life. There is no peace to be had for the butler. The only thing he has left of his son are memories of a time gone by when the two would race together.
Loneliness certainly does appear to be a common factor for many people in the land of Termina. Everyone is in danger when the moon is threatening to crash into the surface, but beyond that, there are many other problems that arise for characters like Pamela, Lulu, and more. Maybe that is why Link ended up in Termina in the first place. While trying to deal with his own problems, he stumbled into the lives of others and ultimately saved many from their own loneliness.