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Zuko Alone: Possible Allusions to the Book of Genesis?

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Being a follower of my faith, I am well-versed in the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. Recently, I've re-watched "Zuko Alone" and did an in-depth analysis of its themes and came across the notion that a few key events in the episode may allude to certain situations in the Book of Genesis, the first of the five books in the bible. Whether this was a coincidence on Mike's and Bryan's parts or an actual reference to the religious texts is ambiguous at best, but I will be exploring the latter possibility with this blog.

The first instance I will investigate occurs when Ozai talks to his father, Azulon, about transferring his older brother Iroh's birthright to him due to the former's failure in besieging Ba Sing Se and voluntarily withdrawing after his son, Lu Ten's death in the ensuing battle. At the end of the episode, after Azulon's mysterious death, the birthright was switched from Iroh to Ozai, making the latter his father's immediate successor. This event relates to the story of the twins Esau and Jacob, whose origins are explained early in Genesis. Esau was the elder, and Jacob the younger, clinging to his brother's heel when the two were born. Jacob's mother, Rebecca, conspired with her younger son to get him her older son's birthright, because he had no intentions of leading or a sense of duty; all he wanted to do was hunt, which he did well, and thus he was admired by his father, Isaac, for that reason among others. Jacob managed to convince Esau to sell his birthright for a meal that his younger brother was cooking. Later, Isaac sent Esau off to the fields to catch some game in order to prepare a meal, after which he would confer his blessing to his eldest son. Rebecca overheard this and hatched a plan to get the birthright for Jacob instead of Esau, and this involved tricking Isaac (who was blind by this point) into uttering his blessing to his younger son. She dressed Jacob up in skins and covered his arms with hair (Esau was very hairy while Jacob was smooth-skinned), and had him prepare a very similar meal. Despite a very close call initially during the execution of the plan, Jacob ultimately receives his father's blessing and then has to flee when Esau returns and Isaac realizes his mistake, shaking with rage since the blessing can't be repeated.

The second connection involves the first event as well as a second event towards the end of the episode. After Ozai's declaration wanting to usurp Iroh's birthright, Azulon says that his youngest son would be punished for his defiance, so as to have him (Ozai) experience the pain of losing his son. The connection with Genesis involves a much younger Isaac and his father, Abraham. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only legitimate son (he had another son, Ishmael, with his wife's maidservant, Hagar). Reluctantly, he took his son to Mt. Moriah, built an altar and bound Isaac atop it. Abraham raised his knife and brought it down to Isaac's neck, but God stopped him right before any blood was drawn, saying it was only a test, to see how far Abraham would follow His orders. He then commanded Abraham to kill a ram spotted in a nearby bush instead. Going back to the episode, we know that Ursa, Zuko's mother vowed to protect her son at all costs. It is later found out in "The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse" that Ozai had every intention of killing his son (directly contradictory to Abraham's reluctant obedience to attempt to kill his own) and that Ursa prevented him doing so by volunteering to hatch a plan that would result in Ozai becoming Fire Lord, which resulted in Azulon's death (perhaps by her hand) and her subsequent disappearance. This ties in with the latter part of the second biblical instance (Abraham sacrificing a ram instead of Isaac) as well as the implied aftermath of the birthright incident (although never mentioned in Genesis, it is implied that she bore the brunt of the blame for Jacob getting the birthright as the latter was already long gone).

Those are the two events that tie Zuko Alone to the Book of Genesis. Hopefully you enjoyed the blog, and feel free to comment below. Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem 01:04, October 30, 2011 (UTC)

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