The Fruit of Life — Making the Most of Jane Crocker
Maid of Life
Key Verb: Make/Create
One who Makes Life, or Makes through Life, for their own benefit.[DISCLAIMER: This is pretty much a Sequel/Expansion to my Classpect essay series on the Destroy and Make classes. I basically felt Jane warranted an entire essay by herself, both in terms of how she’s marked by her Class aesthetics, and how her roleplay and state of being inform her role as a protagonist.
As such, You should really really read my essays on Class theory and the Destroy/Create classes specifically to follow this essay optimally. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to read the Gnostic interpretation of Trickster Mode, either.
Hopefully you can follow along without those! I just can’t uh. Really promise you anything. Sorry, I’m trying my best here. Let me know where I confuse you if you get lost! It’ll help me condense this stuff better in the future.]
Oooh, boy. I’ve been nervous about this one for a while. First, a disclaimer: This is in no way an argument that Jane’s character resolution was perfect.
I’m not about to stand up on a podium and claim anyone was wrong to be upset because they didn’t “Get It”.
I feel the need to say this upfront because more than any other character, much of the fandom feels Jane was pretty much dropped. I don’t really feel comfortable contesting that, and I’m not even sure I disagree.
Still, those of you who know my writing know I don’t much enjoy being critical, so I’ll leave that to my friend Loss, who is better at it than I am anyway. Feel free to click here to read her critique of Jane’s arc.
However, I do think my reading of Jane as a Maid of Life — which differs from that post in some ways — makes reading Jane’s narrative more enjoyable, and her character more coherent. At the very least, I think the comic was going for something. And I think what it was going for was interesting!
And given that Jane’s narrative was the one I had the most issues with, seeing that there was more care put into it than I thought at first gives me more hope for the epilogue. Hopefully, if you follow along with me here, you’ll feel the same way! If not, I’d love to hear about it and talk about this, as always.
Now, a warning: I’m gonna have to do quite a bit of set-up before I actually write about…you know…Jane, simply because there’s so much to dig into with the symbols surrounding her. So let’s cover the ways Jane is referenced as a Fairy before we dig into the implications that gives us for her character.
First off, we’ve got a musical reference in the form of Jane Dargason.
A Dargason is a piece of music used largely in English folk tunes. According to Encyclopedia.com, one notable usage is in the song “It was a Maid of my Country”, and the word Dargason itself may be derived from the anglo-saxon word for “Fairy” or “Dwarf.” We’ll come back to that last point.
Now let’s take a look at one connection between Fairies I overlooked in my last post: Special Stardust.
Special stardust is referenced throughout Homestuck — Gamzee and Vriska both use it, both of them in attempts to invoke Magic, and Gamzee later provides it to the Cherubs for consumption. In these instances, however, Special Stardust is described as being bullshit and and Non-Magic.
But there is a source of Special Stardust that IS linked to magic in the story, referenced only once:
These translucent little sparkle trails are associated with Vriska only while she’s roleplaying Mindfang, and is attributed specifically to Fairies — who are made of Magic. Aradia echoes this aesthetic, and it’s not impossible to see Kanaya’s Rainbow Drinker aesthetic this way, too. Both her and Porrim are Fairy classes, after all, and like Fairies, Rainbow Drinkers were understood to be fantastical and unreal.
Which brings us to Jane — the only character besides Aradia and Vriska to display this particular combination of symbols.
During Jane’s trickster mode transformation, she creates special stardust — the sparks around both her and the tree twinkle, and she continues leaving Sparkle Dust behind her in Tricksterstuck. She also leaves a rainbow trail in her wake — the only time besides Aradia and Vriska that a character does so.
Since it might be hard to see in still images, here’s a link to the video:
Trickster Mode is pretty much the only instance where Jane really displays her full-fledged Classpect powers, too, as she floods almost half her planet in overwhelming Life. Obviously it’s not a healthy place for her to be, but it’s telling that Jane at her most effective is also Jane at her most otherworldly.
And it’s no accident that Jane is estranged from her own power, because for most of her narrative Jane isn’t thinking of herself as a creator or a Fairy.
In fact, she explicitly distances herself from the identity.
Gnomes are frequently described as a kind of Fairy. And where Sylphs are understood to be Wind elementals, Gnomes are also known as Earth elementals. We’ll talk about the identity Jane embraces in it’s place —
that of the Heiress — in a little while, but first let’s ask:
If Fairies are Made of Magic, and — as Aradia implies — made specifically of their Aspect, then what might we understand from Jane as being one who is Made of Life? Or perhaps Made of Earth, if we use the Gnome association?
Well, to start with we can condense the two. After all, Jane notable and uniquely spent most of her Life on the Earth — and not in outlandish circumstances, like her friends, but in a pretty much normal household by our standards.
If Kanaya — A Fairy of Space, and thus the setting of Homestuck, and thus Sburb — finds her sense of self is intensely shaped by her connection to Sburb, then perhaps we can see Jane as the other side of this coin.
In this sense, we can understand Jane as a fairy made wholly of the mundane world that filled up most of her living experience — the Planet Earth, as we know and live it today. Or, well, it’s closest fictionalized representative.
Another way of getting at the same idea is through Jane’s Cruxite Artifact. Like John, Jane gets a tree — but unlike John, Jane’s tree provides no fruit for her consumption.
Upon consuming the Fruit of Knowledge, Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden — God reasoning that humanity must not be allowed to eat the Fruit of Life as well, and thus ‘Live Forever’. John inherits the fruit of Knowledge, but Jane — a Life player — is denied her own Fruit. In other words…
She’s denied experience.
And if we describe the aspect of Life as partly including the concept of Experience, of learning about the world directly through direct, material impact, a lot about Jane falls into place.
Jane’s sense of ignorance isn’t willful quite the way Jake’s is. Where Jake makes up a reality in his head when he feels it’s convenient to him, serving himself through hope, Jane is completely and utterly convinced of the reality of her living world. She is made by her direct, lived experiences.
This is the root of Jane’s skepticism. It’s not that she doesn’t believe in her friends, but that her lived experience of Crockercorp as a good company that provides for her and her family sways her more than any stories ever could.
For Jane, a book that she can feel and hold and evaluate for herself carries more influence than text on her computer screen.
Dirk deduces this about Jane’s nature, just as he sees Roxy’s selfless adoration even over her coercive treatment of him, and Jake’s perceptive awareness past his aloof, dumb adventurer persona.
Hence why he determines there’s no point to alienating Jane by trying to convince her — on some level, Dirk understands Jane will come to believe them only once she directly experiences the fantastical world they’re living in.
This turns out to be prescient, as Jane only turns her skepticism train around once she wakes up on Prospit, each dream of the world wearing her skepticism down in leaps and bounds after years of obstinacy.
As soon as Jane’s experienced world expands, so too does Jane’s comfort with new ideas. But it’s not just her skepticism about Crockercorp and the Game that Jane’s internalized experience leaves her with.
Jane’s sense of self is also shaped intensely by the same cultural forces John inherits as a presumed direction for his life. Internalized Heteronormativity, to be specific.
The same way John internalizes toxic masculinity — not as anything that directly shapes his sense of self, but as a series of memes and jokes and things to say that don’t necessarily mean anything to him — , Jane defines herself almost completely in gendered and heteronormative terms.
Jane, like John, internalizes the image of the 1950’s style heteromonogamous nuclear families. But where John passively inherits it — much as Equius inherits the false information of the hemospectrum, and finds it easier still to grow out of — Jane actively creates herself according to these values, and internalizes them completely.
Still, she might have had an easier time growing out of her toxic views…were it not for the agents of Lord English. There’s one more thing Jane experiences thoroughly in her time on Earth, and thus absorbs into her Life:
The title of Heiress.
In Homestuck, the role of the Heiress is an interesting one. It isn’t a Class — in fact, it violates one-syllable Hussie’s rule, suggesting it is inherently not a Hero title.
It’s a role almost exclusively applied to the Fuschia trolls, Feferi and Meenah. Notably, both girls discard it. Feferi recognizes that the nature of Sburb has changed the course of her life, and that the role of Heiress isn’t relevant. And Meenah literally runs away from her title of Heiress, rejecting it outright.
And the role of Heiress has an obvious, truly heroic analogue:
The Heir, a title that could just as easily apply to all genders. We can understand the role of Heiress as a particular toxic kind of roleplay — one imposed by the Empress onto her successors,
and by and large, rejected by them.
But not by Jane. In place of the Fairy identity she discards, Jane takes to the role of Heiress with zeal. And in fact, she’s conditioned into doing so through her experiences! The Condesce’s software feeds her constant subliminal messages encouraging her to take a stance of passivity, messages Jane internalizes without even being aware of them.
And so when it comes to handling real life problems, Jane emulates John mechanically, acting for the benefit of others even when it runs counter to her own desires, or even best interest. Where John excelled at effortlessly sending his friends on better Directions and allowing change to flow through him, Jane’s instinct is to Make life for her own benefit, and the conflict between her true feelings and the role she’s playing cause her great stress.
There’s even visual parallels drawn between Jane and some of John’s most memorably drawn conversations. Where John types super fast and with no effort, Jane’s typing is methodical, robotic and painful. John’s conversation contains his honest self-expressed thoughts and feelings. Jane’s contained a bunch of lies as she presented herself in a False way to Jake.
Jake even comments on her suggestion of proactivity, noting it as uncharacteristic. Importantly, it’s what Jane WANTS to do, but she herself denies this, even though her honest feelings come out in a Freudian slip sort of way — she suggests they “Have babies”, revealing her internalized desire to Make Life.
But for the most part Jane reacts Passively and assumes her inheritance from Life, assuming she’s wrong or that she messed up immediately once she’s actually experienced contrasting evidence. The point is: This isn’t satisfying to Jane, but she’s playing along with the rules of Life and gender essentialism she grew up with.
And so, just before the game, Jane reacts Passively to Jake’s assurance that Jane just wanting to be his friend makes things easier for him, when what she really wants to do is Actively make clear her feelings are romantic. From then on, Jane is Made to do Life’s bidding as it manifests in her friends.
She is forced into a position of providing constant emotional labor to Jake, as she props up his willpower and tries to help him make up his mind. She’s polite about it around Jake and Dirk, hiding her true feelings, but she also tries to Change Jake’s mind a couple of times, trying to use a potion she inherited from her Clown mentor as a love drug.
This is the context Jane’s five months are spent in. This is what she’s struggling with. The Alpha session isn’t empty and challengeless — it’s a Void session because the conflicts guiding the session are profoundly metaphysical. The Void session is a battlefield that plays out not in the world of material reality, like the Beta’s session, but rather in the world of Ideas.
Ideas are what the Alphas fight against and struggle with, and they are denied even the advantage of effective ideological guides. Since, after all, either Gamzee or Vriska — depending on the timeline — inevitably rob them of their Sprites.
And so the kids are left with no resources or sources of guidance as they cope with their issues. Dirk experiences a splinter of himself lashing out at him in endless self-flagellation and trolling his emotional insecurities insecurities.
AR himself sure as hell doesn’t have anyone guiding his existential despair and grief.
Jake ramps up his willful ignorance to eleven with Erisolsprite, making it clear he’s desperately believing whatever he needs to in order to avoid acknowledging unpleasant confrontations with any of his friends — Jane included. And Jane?
Jane is denied any sort of guidance. Gamzee blows up her sprite — her Skaia-borne Angel who provides Light in the form of true information about the game and the player’s path of self-actualization. Jane is denied the benefit of the experience of having someone with more insight sit her down and talk to her about the problems she’s dealing with — the other Alphas are just as conflicted and confused as she is, so no one is really in a position to help each other.
Roxy starts off just as confused, but is also the only one to benefit from a positive relation with her Sprite, and also turns out to be the Passive player who, in the long term, grows into keeping her friends emotionally together as best she can. So access to a source of insight in a Sprite is linked to both effectiveness and, in the long term, self-satisfaction.
Jane’s search for her dad takes on new connotations with an understanding grounded in her search for guidance. It’s true she wants to find her dad to keep him safe out of care for family, but it’s also true she’s overwhelmed. And what would the experience of an overwhelmed, smart, responsible teenager tell her? That it would be prudent to find an Adult.
Of course, Jane doesn’t find him, and so spends her time Waiting, unsure what to do or what’s right in her situation. But in the end she IS given direction, of an exploitative and deranged sort. Ultimately, Jane is handed a solution in the form of her Inheritance, one orchestrated by both the Cherubs and the Condesce.
Jane’s inheritance of the Lollipop Juju is a twisted presentation of an Heir’s path. Just as John inherited Jet Packs, God-Tier Flight and eventually the literal embodiment of the Plot of Homestuck, so too Jane inherits Life —
The Condesce even referring to it as an element of “royal business” for Jane.
But where for John his inheritance is empowering — if briefly overwhelming — Jane finds it toxic and withering. Jane’s core nature doesn’t exactly welcome this inheritance, and it proves a poor fit for her.
The Juju itself is a Life symbol— it’s an edible food, after all. But the connection between it and Life is quite a bit more explicit, and has it’s roots in the twin snakes visible in the Lollipop for a few frames:
The twin black-white snakes from The Neverending Story. AURYN.
AURYN is a medallion that grants the wearer the power to make any wishes they have come true. But it is also a place where the two snakes act as the borders to a magnificent fountain, guards to the water of Life.
To hold Auryn, then, is to take the fruit of Life itself.
To be able to make of Life whatever you wish, merely by wishing it.
But for humans, this comes at the cost of making them forget their lives as humans, with all their weaknesses, fears and struggles. And it costs them their ability to create new stories — new ideas.
Which is exactly what Trickster Mode gives Jane. As a Trickster, Jane is made completely physical, and denied the capacity to honestly relate to other people’s complex Feelings and Ideas. In place of that ability, Jane is given Power — Power to influence reality and get what she wants.
In inheriting the Lollipop, Jane gains All The Levels.
And the result is that she feels completely alive:
And like the other Alphas, she expresses that Life through her Classpect.
Jake immediately indulges all of his Hopes, deciding to just date everybody so he never has to confront his own preferences or let anyone down or make them feel bad.
Roxy immediately tries to steal Dirk into a romantic relationship with her and obfuscate all of their abilities to think with alcohol — an indulgence of Void. Dirk, of course, is immune to the whole thing by virtue of being a Heart player.
And when Jane trickster modes, she becomes a megaphone for the concept of Life itself. Jane is focused on her own single desire:
To enjoy herself, express herself, and procreate. To Make Life.
In Embodying Life so thoroughly, Jane takes on a uniquely ethereal quality, making her innermost values seem extreme and intense to the point that she feels like a native of Zillyhoo. A Fairy from a magical realm rather than a person with human-born thoughts and feelings.
Just as before with her human culture Jane’s sense of self is defined entirely by the experiences she’s having in the moment. So when she’s trickstered, all those prior inhibitions fall away and Jane assumes a hyper-intense version of her true identity.
But the stint doesn’t last forever, and soon after Trickster Mode ends, her internalized, inherited experience of human heteronormativity reasserts itself with a vengeance.
This transformation is reflected in her name, since after all, she does go Crockertier. Her transformation lines up with the folklore belief that knowing the Name of a fairy would allow one to make it do it’s bidding. By forcing Jane’s inheritance — her name — onto her, the Condesce takes hold of Jane’s identity and gains power over her nature.
Crockertier Jane is Jane’s final inheritance from the Empress. In stealing Jane’s life for her own benefit, the Condesce brings out all of Jane’s most authoritative, willful impulses and throttles them to maximum. She gives Jane carte blanche to do whatever she wants with reality…as long as it’s in service to the Condesce’s Empire.
And so, Jane becomes a megaphone for heteronormative entitlement next. The idle presumption of heteronormativity she held before now becomes an ideology she outright imposes onto Jake, to benefit her own desires.
Jane attempts to make her Life as it was on Earth. But she does it according to the exact way she was taught to understand it, with no regard to anyone’s desires about how reality should be but her own.
This sense of possessive willfulness is also the source of one of the implications Jane’s sexuality might be more flexible than it seemed, since there is a possesive and selfish bent to her desire for Roxy’s attention.
After all, Jane is noted to be jealous whenever the subject of Jake with other invested suitors is brought up,although the feeling dissipates as Jane gets more and more fed up with Jake’s bullshit.
So what does it mean that she feels it for Roxy, and chooses to express that possessiveness so intensely as to attempt murder?
You know. Just something to think about. Certainly gives the Janeroxcallie snapchat a bit more weight to me.
At this point, after all, it’s been a couple of years. She’s has plenty of time to expand her world through Experience.
She’s built her own company now, and she’s no longer an Heiress — on Earth C, Jane makes Life through Crockercorp, expressing her life into Business instead of the physical procreation she searched for in Trickster mode.
In short, Jane Post-Credits seems to have found a way to express herself that she’s happy and comfortable with. All that’s left is to consider how.
Which brings me to my final point:
Jane’s narrative victory, in the comic proper.
Because Jane’s arc is so heavily focused on the acquisition of guidance and experience, I actually think her meeting with Nannasprite…kind of makes sense as a narrative resolution? I mean, I’m not sure I’m defending it. It’s still way way anticlimactic and low-effort compared to what everyone else gets.
But it does seem COHERENT. Like a step towards saying something meaningful that dovetails with Jane’s entire character.
People bring up Jane’s dad as what should have been the pinnacle of her character, but Jane actually knew her Dad was alright for a while. I mean, she took over Derse and got upgraded with an AR-level AI and given tons of secret Condesce intel. And Dad was…on Derse.
So she technically found him a while ago. Just not at a time when she could get the guidance she needed.
So that means that Jane’s arc didn’t revolve around getting Dad back, exactly — but on trying to get someone with experience to guide her.
And in Jane ends up achieving this at long last by meeting the Sprite version of herself, an older and wiser Jane with true lived Experience.
Two versions of herself, as a matter of fact!
Jane spent her session of Sburb adrift, and lost.
And Nanna reassures her and tells her that, no matter how things went wrong — and fuck did they go wrong for Jane — she’ll learn from it and get stronger, wiser, and more experienced. And then…
Immediately positions herself as a mentor figure, filling the hole in Jane’s life from the Sprite partner she was denied in both timelines. For Jane, this reassurance that things will be alright and that she’s not alone in figuring things out anymore is the climax to her character. This is what was important to her.
It may very well be that a lot of us still find her narrative unsatisfying. I won’t try to contest that. It just seems to me like in this sense, Hussie was indeed going for something coherent. Hopefully, maybe we’ll even see more of Jane’s story in the future.
But I’m not gonna ask anyone to bet on that. Instead, I just wanted to see if I could put the shards of subtext and buildup we have in the narrative and see if it was going for anything coherent. I think it was, and it actually has a serviceable — if barebones and insufficient — execution.
Hopefully, you think so too, and you feel just a bit better about this wonderful, underrated character, that too many of us feel was left by the wayside in the narrative.
And if not, hopefully you’ll have fun telling me why you disagree.
I think Homestuck is worth talking about, even where it’s flaws are concerned. There’s a lot to enjoy about Jane.
Anyway, that’s all for now.
Special thanks to manicnayt for pointing out the Jane Dargason fairy reference! Also to my Patrons for beta-reading this, as well as betweengenesisfrogs for helping me polish the end section. You all rock!