a promise to every maiden

Locke is the poster child for what's unofficially called a white knight complex. He possesses a pathological need to protect women, and this promise of protection is one he delivers to many. During the game, we see him swear this protection to both Terra and Celes. And Locke's seeming affection for both women has spurred a lot of argument in the FF6 community. Yet these promises are not made out of particular attraction to the women he meets, but rather out of a desperate attempt to repent for a crime with which he has charged himself. He is locked into this need to protect for much of the game, although we see his guilt begin to ease in the World of Ruin.

 

come alive

Although Locke seeks out and attempts to use the Phoenix Esper to save Rachel, the Phoenix is more a symbol of Locke's own rebirth than Rachel's. After Rachel utters her last words to Locke, and renews the power of the Esper, Locke seems to be reborn. And after this rebirth, we can begin to speculate on future relationships of Locke's. I'll be honest, when I was younger I thought it more likely that Locke would fall in love with Terra in the end since Terra is the main character. But replaying as an adult, there seems to be a much stronger hint of Locke and Celes than I'd remembered. Apparently in the re-translation (which I have not played), this relationship is also much more apparent.

In the end however, FF6 does not support a strong romance between any of the playable characters. Locke has spent years mourning the loss of Rachel, unable to quite let her go; Celes herself has spent years in the service of the Empire and is only beginning to allow sensitivity into her dealings with others by the end of the game. As for the future? FF6 is all about life and love, so I don't find it too far-fetched that people love to team Locke up with either Celes or Terra. Being a crotchety old person now ;), I find other aspects of Locke's interaction with others more interesting. And so...

 

affection and reflection

Locke's struggle seems to be unaffected by his companions: nevermind the number of damsels, he can only think of one. He even tells Celes that she reminds him of someone (I've always believed this 'someone' is Rachel, given his focus on her and his reasons for guarding other women, but others smartly point out he could be referring to Terra or another character). Furthermore, Locke doesn't even trust Celes. (Yet he still finds her worthy of protection.)

While Locke's struggle is almost entirely internal, Celes is a bit different. Locke touches off her transformation from a solitary, unemotional general and into a woman who cares deeply for others. When Celes despairs for her companions, or is grateful to them, she always seems to hold Locke in a special place even outside the others. There are several reasons for this. First of all, it is Locke who gave her a second chance at life, free of the Empire. Locke stepped in, freed her, and gave her a new direction. Meanwhile, he continued to support her. She also felt the sting of his moment of doubt in her, but through this she grew stronger and eventually forgave him. And in the World of Ruin, when (or rather, if) Celes attempts suicide, it's Locke's bandana that restores hope to her. Again, Locke spurs her on towards new purpose.

What's interesting about all this is that Celes is generally thought of as being quite independent, but emotionally this just isn't true. She took most of her cues from the Empire, and now, with the Returners, is in a somewhat awkward and juvenile stage, emotionally. (She has no trouble discussing the Empire or magic, for example, but when Terra first questions her about love, Celes reacts rather melodramatically; similarly, she has a flare of temper when Locke suggests she takes Maria's part in the famous opera scene.) Locke on the other hand seems quite sure of himself and is excellent at communicating with the other party members. The serious Celes is offset by the more laidback[-seeming] Locke. Their relationship highlights Celes' emotional short-comings; physically she may be strong, intelligent, and self-sufficient but emotionally, she's not. But by the end of the game, she's truly grown: it's Celes who gets the most emotional about Terra, who comes to her rescue. At the same time, she's not quite fully matured: she still risks her life over a sentimental object.

During the game, it seems Celes is reliant on Locke, emotionally, to an extent while he's actually not really that emotionally available at all. By the end, things seem to even out more. They're a good balance for one another.

 

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