Raph’s Growth as Shown by his Pets
I was thinking about Spike and Chompy, and how different they are, and it dawned on me… they really highlight different character traits of Raph in his growing up, or different phases of maturity.
Spike was Raph’s sounding board. Raph was younger and more childish at the start of the series. All of them were. But Raph needed Spike more than Spike needed him, I think. Raph is the most sensitive of his brothers, and he needed a good listener he could say anything to without getting judgement. Spike took care of Raph, in that sense.
By season 4, Raph had grown up a lot. He’d learned to manage without relying on Spike. He learned to control his temper a little better and self-soothe. He started realizing more and more what putting his brothers first really means. He even got to experience romance for the first time.
Then this little guy came along:
Before Spike mutated into Slash, he seemed to exhibit some intelligence and the personality of a teenage boy not unlike Raphael.
But Chompy is a baby. He hatched in Raph’s hand. Instinct may tell Chompy that Tokka is his mother, but otherwise, he believes Raph is the one he needs to cling to.
Raph has learned to get along just fine without a pet. He’s more mature now, and that’s one of the reasons his owner/pet relationship with Chompy is different.
Raph’s pets illustrate his growth. He relied on Spike and Spike took care of him, but Chompy relies on him so he takes care of Chompy. Raph isn’t some kid anymore who needs a listener because he can’t talk to anyone else. While he still talks to Chompy about his feelings, he doesn’t need to for emotional maintenance. Raph has grown up, and he’s responsible enough to care for a little baby critter that needs him now.