Warning - this post contains major spoilers for the ending of 'Red Dead Redemption'. But, seriously though, you should've played it and finished it by now. It's a damn masterpiece!
Rockstar Games' seminal Wild West-em-up Red Dead Redemption is a tale of much hardship and woe, nestled in-between mounds of bloody soul searching in America's dusty outback.
Every character has their own unhinged agenda and plan for crafting a life, or a name for themselves in the dirt, which is what makes the game such a intricately nuanced essay on the human condition. Much like all of Rockstar's games, barring Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, of course.
When you think back on the game, it's easy to recall the stunning graphics, fantastic gameplay and the disbelief at being able to ride a horse off a steep cliff and survive, but die instantly in water, but what about the great sense of loss; the death of frontier living and the birth of gentile capitalism?
There's a great sense of the cyclical nature of all things wound tight within RDR's narrative, which is echoed perfectly by the game's monumental ending - as suggested in this wonderful fan theory by Redditor StapMyVitals, that reckons Jack Marston was the reason for his mother's death at the end of the game.
HERE COME THE SPOILS!
At the end of RDR, when John Marston has been slain after that infamous double-crossing, time skips ahead 3 years and we see a new tombstone nestled next to his -- his wife Abigail has passed too, leaving their son Jack completely alone:
It could have been suicide, it could have been an illness she was just too weary and miserable to resist.
Later we take control of Jack Marston, after he becomes a gun-toting badass just like his father:
He can fight with a knife and his fists, handle dynamite, hogtie a man, and has no compunction about shooting someone in the head. You don't just naturally learn all that. Upon his father's death, Jack Marston changed completely and started training (consciously or otherwise) hard and daily for the skillset his father acquired over a tragically misspent youth.
But what happened in the time running up to his transformation and his mother's demise? Well that's where this theory gets heartbreaking and pretty darn legit:
Abigail and John talk extensively about how they want to change; they want to leave their old lives behind and see their son experience a different, peaceful childhood and grow up responsible and hard-working.
I think John's death may have been evidence that the past wouldn't go away, and that hurt Abigail, but seeing Jack become exactly what his father was is probably what finally defeated her and finished her off. Failing to save her husband was bad but not unexpected; failing to save her son broke her.
When I say "Jack killed his mother", I don't mean he put a gun to her head, I mean that his choices, despite the intention to avenge his father and make things right, made her give up on life.
So in the end, despite their attempts at making a better life for themselves and their son, both John and Abigail die with the Old West, as their son becomes a more quick minded vessel of redemption in the new world. Exactly what she didn't want for him.
Watching her son shed his innocence and follow in his father's bloodstained footsteps was the nail in the coffin, as it were.
What do you think of the theory? Sound off below!