There is a dirty side to the perceived uncommon strength of black women. Ultimately, the “strong black woman” stereotype is an albatross, at odds with African American women’s very survival. Because, according to pop culture and media, we are also the workhorses. We are the cold, overeducated, career-obsessed sisters who will never marry. We are the indefatigable mamas who don’t need help, the castrating harpies. We are the brawling World Star “hood rats.” We are the women whom no one need worry about when we go missing. We are the scary bogeywomen on America’s doorstep in the middle of the night. And, too often, we are the women who dare not give in to our vulnerability, even as we’re breaking, emotionally and physically.
The saddest thing about Race to the Edge for me is the fact that Hiccup takes Stoick a bit for granted. He acts shocked when Gobber says something is wrong with Stoick, clearly worried about his father’s health, and he does share some good bonding time and conversation with his dad in “Crushing It.” They do care for each other and get along fine. But overall Hiccup has treated Stoick very casually and has not spent all the father-son quality time he could have in his teenaged years.
Knowing that Stoick is going to die in How to Train Your Dragon 2, it makes their interactions all the more painful to me.
In “Dragon Eye of the Beholder Part 1,” the two of them have a conversation that makes it quite clear how daily life in the Haddock household proceeds.
Stoick: Hiccup, what are you doing home so early? Hiccup: Oh. I… just… erm, uh… wanted to spend some time with my dear old dad. Stoick: [frowns] Hiccup: Yeah, we never get to talk anymore. So. Stoick: Alright, what is it? Hiccup: What’s what, what is it? Can - can’’t a son spend some quality time with his father? Stoick: Not this one. Not usually, at least. So, let’s hear it.
Stoick has come to love, cherish, and appreciate his son, while Hiccup has come to accept and understand his father’s care. They have grown toward one another. However, this does not mean that Hiccup and Stoick spend a lot of time around each other, and this conversation makes it clear they don’t. Stoick spends enormous quantities of time running the village while Hiccup flies away on his dragon-seeking adventures.
Thus, Stoick is surprised when Hiccup is home early. He comments that Hiccup does not spend quality time with him. Hiccup on his own end admits that they never talk much anymore… and he’s stammering awkwardly around his father, making it clear that the reason he is home is not to “spend some time with [his] dear old dad.” Something else is on Hiccup’s mind, and yet again, as is usual in the Haddock household, father and son are not spending time relaxing together for the mere sake of one another’s company.
It only makes sense given Hiccup’s age. He and his father are on solid ground with one another, but Hiccup is in his late teens nearing his twenties. At that age a youth living at home is going to be inclined to want to branch out, no longer tied so closely to home. Hiccup is at the age where a teenager naturally drifts away from their parents and goes off to explore the potentials of life beyond. Stoick even encourages it when Hiccup comes to the council explaining the Dragon Eye.
So instead of being around Stoick, Hiccup works with Gobber at the armory. Or goes out flying to different islands with Astrid seeking out new dragons. And then once he gets hold of the Dragon’s Eye… he flies off to a new island entirely.
Hiccup is not even on the same island as his father! One is at Berk, the other Dragon’s Edge a long flight away.
Even after that, Hiccup continues his mapping project.
Not at home.
It puts things in a whole new perspective. By the events of How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup and Stoick have not had too much interaction time. Hiccup just lives around Stoick casually because he never expects to lose his father so soon. The young man has other interests and priorities…
…and then Dad is just… gone.
You never know what you got ‘til it’s gone.
Imagine what sort of regrets Hiccup goes through upon taking the chiefdom at twenty. He regrets not having those teenaged years with his father. He mourns the fact that Stoick is gone; he loved his father so deeply and yet did not get all the experiences he could have made when Stoick was still alive. For he cannot build those memories. Stoick’s dead.