Remember Cloud’s personal goal about becoming SOLDIER?
This type of failure would be depressing to us all. But it’s made even more painful. He has to explain to his mother why he can’t support her. Also, why he isn’t who people think he is.
Check it out in the flashback, during which Cloud narratives to his team in Kalm:
Back in the flashback, Cloud walks farther into his house.
Cloud’s Mom: Ye—-s?
She doesn’t remember him at first. Why would his mom forget what her son looks like? This would only make sense if Cloud wore a helmet. SOLDIERS don’t wear helmets. His mom doesn’t know it yet, and she will, but Cloud isn’t SOLDIER.
She runs over.
Cloud’s Mom: Cloud!? Welcome home, Cloud!
Cloud: Hi, mom.
Flash of white noise.
He doesn’t sound too excited. The scene jumps forward. This is kinda strange. He would remember a memory with his mother. Unless he’s trying to push the memory back.
Cloud’s Mom: Come, come… Let me take a look at you! Hmmm……You look so handsome. So this is a SOLDIER uniform?
Cloud: ……Mom, I…
This is the painful part. Here’s where Cloud has to break the terrible news to his mom that he didn’t quite make the cut. The screen keeps flashing to skip the bad parts of his memory. Only in context, it doesn’t sound right. The flashes hide his memories explaining he’s not SOLDIER. But since this conflicts with his conscious mind, he skips it.
Cloud’s Mom: My, how you’ve grown. I’ll bet the girls never leave you alone.
Cloud: …Not really.
Cloud’s Mom: …I’m worried about you. There are a lot of temptations in the city…I’d feel a lot better if you just settled down and had a nice girlfriend.
Cloud: …I’m all right.
Cloud’s Mom: You should have…an older girlfriend, one that’ll take care of you. I think that would be the perfect type for you.
Cloud: ……I’m not interested.
Wow. Notice how his mom doesn’t congratulate him. She doesn’t bring up him making SOLDIER, how proud she is, or what he plans to do. She still looks at him as an incompetent child. She wants him to get an “older girlfriend” who will “take care of him”. She figures he can’t take care of himself. She’s trying to flatter him about being a handsome young man to take his mind off of not making SOLDIER. And she’s trying to get him to reconsider his goals.
Cloud’s Mom: Are you eating right?
Cloud: I’m all right. The Company takes care of me.
Cloud’s Mom: Is that so? You can’t cook, right? I was worried sick about how you were doing…
So if he’s SOLDIER, wouldn’t he be healthier? Shinra isn’t taking care of Cloud. Cloud feels like dirt, physically and emotionally. His mother can see this, and probably thinks it’s because he’s losing his appetite.
Cloud’s Mom: Cloud…?
Cloud’s Mom: You know, Cloud……
Uh oh. Sounds like his mom is starting to lecture Cloud about reconsidering his goals.
Cloud’s Mom: ……isn’t that right, Cloud?
Cloud’s Mom: I will always be your mother…
This is his mom comforting for not making it into SOLDIER. His mom was nice to him about his failings but worried about his future. That’s what mothers do…
The screen fades to black.
Cloud (narrating): ……Let’s stop this……
I think we all know that person who inflates their accomplishments by embellishing the details of their past. Cloud does this unintentionally. He truly believes he’s remembering events from his past. However mistaken he is, it’s due to the fact that his subconscious is hiding the truth. Cloud, without him being aware of it, is shielding himself from the horrible truth that he is a loser.
Everyone listening to him might think he wants to stop the story and avoid painful memories. It’s really because he can’t remember any good memories of what should be his greatest accomplishment. He’s trying to shake the confusion away…
He’s not the only one who doubts himself:
Red XIII: “What a fascinating story.”
Translation: “Cool story, bro.” That’s because Red XIII doesn’t believe it.
Barret comments on Cloud’s story too, that it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t. His mom would have been happy for him. More people would have congratulated him. He’d be a hero in his hometown. But by the way, everyone treats him, they couldn’t care less about him. Some even feel sorry for him.
I hope the game makes us feel the same confusion and unsettling feeling the others felt. Cloud, the main character, as an unreliable narrator, is genius.