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Removing the Mask of Loneliness with Majora’s Mask} ?>
The beginning of Majora’s Mask stands in stark contrast to its predecessor, Ocarina of Time, and it leaves me unsettled. Instead of waking up in a village surrounded by colorfully dressed Kokiri children amongst sun-kissed trees, Link is riding his horse through a dark forest. “At least he’s got Epona,” I think as the scene plays out. The background music is hesitant, quiet, then turns dark as the Skull Kid laughs creepily, curses Link into Deku form, and steals Epona.
Link is now truly alone. The script at the beginning of Majora’s Mask tells us that this boy, “after battling evil and saving Hyrule, crept away from the land that had made him a legend” to embark on a personal journey and find a lost friend, Navi. Link’s isolation becomes even more heartbreaking when you connect it to his journey in Ocarina of Time. As much as she might annoy me, Navi is the only one who knows what Link experienced in Ocarina of Time; since the timeline was reset, no one else in Hyrule remembers the Hero of Time and what he sacrificed for them. All of the friends that he made have forgotten him. It’s no wonder that he wants to find a companion who understands what he’s been through.
Termina, the land Link is thrown into when he chases the Skull Kid, is surreal, almost dreamlike, especially since a giant moon with an angry face is about to drop down and destroy the world. Plus, there are many characters who look suspiciously similar to the ones from Hyrule; in Hyrule Historia, Termina is described as a parallel world. I suspect this would make it a worse experience for Link, who would be reminded yet again of people he remembers as friends but who don’t recognize him.
This theme of isolation is repeated again and again throughout Majora’s Mask. We meet the Goron Elder’s son, who is crying because he wants his father; Anju and Kafei, who are parted because of a curse and a misunderstanding; Pamela, who lives alone in the hopes that she can find a cure for her father; and the Deku Butler, whose son has gone missing.
In a game where you are constantly putting on masks, Majora’s Mask reminds me that loneliness itself is a mask I can wear—sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of hurt, sometimes out of anger.
The Skull Kid’s actions against Link emerge from loneliness, and he wears Majora’s Mask because of his isolation. He had been friends with the Four Giants of Termina before they left to guard the land’s people from harm. Feeling abandoned and friendless, the Skull Kid steals Majora’s Mask and uses its power to wreak havoc on everyone around him; he even lashes out at the only two beings who had befriended him at that point. His bitterness causes him to hurt the people around him and eventually become slave to Majora, the spirit inhabiting his mask. It’s not until Majora abandons him as well that the Skull Kid acknowledges the harm he has caused, especially when he realizes the Four Giants hadn’t forsaken him, but were indeed his friends all along.
The Skull Kid’s loneliness had been self-inflicted, a mask he had chosen to put on because he was hurt and angry.
How often do I put on that same kind of mask and retreat from the people around me because staying mad is easier than facing the problem? I sometimes even retreat from God, angry that my life isn’t going the way I think it should. I then misinterpret my self-inflicted isolation as being abandoned by God, when, in fact, He has been there all along—I’m the one who has gone into hiding. Holding onto loneliness out of spite seems foolish, but when the alternative is recognizing that I’m the problem, it’s hard to let go.
The parting words of the Happy Mask Salesman are the following: “Whenever there is a meeting, a parting is sure to follow. However, that parting need not last forever… Whether a parting be forever or merely for a short time… That is up to you.”
Sometimes feelings of loneliness come out of situations that I cannot control. But the loneliness derived from my own anger and bitterness only lasts for as long as I want it to. Loneliness can mark a time of restoring relationships and growing closer to the God I believe is always with me. The isolation that comes from feeling abandoned by others is sometimes just that, a feeling. Feelings are unreliable little buggers. God says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age;” I can choose to believe His word or not. It’s a matter of faith, not feelings. The amount of time I feel apart from God and others… that’s up to me.
The original version of this article appeared in Christ and Pop Culture.