Study Guide

Vampire Academy Duty

By Richelle Mead

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"You, Miss Hathaway, broke the most sacred promise among our kind: the promise of a guardian to protect a Moroi. It is a great trust. A trust that you violated by selfishly taking the princess away from here." (2.43)

Ouch—headmistress Kirova has no problem telling Rose off for taking Lissa off campus, and it's clear that even though both girls went, it's all Rose's fault because she's the guardian of the pair. It seems more than a little unfair to us, since Rose isn't even actually Lissa's guardian yet; she's just a novice.

"I did do my duty!" I shouted, jumping up from my chair. Dimitri and Alberta both flinched but left me alone since I wasn't trying to hit anyone. Yet. "I did keep her safe! I kept her safe when none of you"—I made a sweeping gesture around the room—" could do it. I took her away to protect her. I did what I had to do. You certainly weren't going to." (2.47)

Here's the thing: Rose thinks she did do her duty by taking Lissa away. At this point, we're not exactly sure why she thinks that, or what the backstory is behind their getaway, but we know there's definitely more to the story.

Some dhampir women, like my mother, still felt it was their duty to become guardians—even if it meant not raising their own kids. After I'd been born, she'd handed me over to be raised by Moroi. (6.43)

We start to understand just how serious this guardian thing is when we learn that Rose's mom ditched her to continue guarding her Moroi—it's more important than family to these people because the Moroi numbers are dropping. Did anyone order an added side of pressure?

"You're seventeen, and in less than a year, someone's life and death will be in your hands." His voice still sounded firm, but there was a gentleness there too . "If you were human or Moroi, you could have fun. You could do things other girls could." (9.77)

Dimitri's words press into Rose like never before, and she finally gets that she can't be like other seventeen-year-old girls because she's got to protect Lissa at all costs. Just like Uncle Ben told Spidey, with great power comes great responsibility.

And if I got kicked out, Lissa would be alone. Taking a deep breath, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. I walked away. (12.58)

When rumors spread that she slept with Jesse and Ralf, Rose wants to punch the boys right in the face. She's got one awesome right hook, too. Still, she realizes that she can't do what she wants, because she's got to be there for Lissa. This is the first time (outside of training) we see her make a big sacrifice for Lissa, but it won't be the last.

Dimitri had said I grasped my duty better than many older guardians, and I didn't get why—especially when they would have seen so much more death and danger. But I knew in that moment that he was right, that I had some weird sense of how life and death and good and evil worked with each other. (17.69)

We know we'd want Rose as our guardian if we were at St. Vladimir's Academy—she knows what she has to do and works hard to do it. Plus, she seems to take her responsibility more seriously than any of the other novices her age.

It was the scariest moment of my life. Scarier than seeing her in Wade's room. Scarier than seeing her heal that raven. Scarier than my capture by the guardians would be. Because just then, I didn't know my best friend. I didn't know what she was capable of. A year earlier, I would have laughed at anyone who said she'd want to go Strigoi. But a year earlier, I also would have laughed at anyone who said she'd want to cut her wrists or make someone "pay." (17.125)

Here, Rose knows she has to take Lissa out of the Academy, no matter what. It turns out staying at the Academy without help is dangerous for Lissa, since she has a wacky bring-animals-back-from-the-dead power, and Rose is focused on protecting her friend.

It's hard to say what finally made me do it. I'd held on to so many secrets for so long, doing what I believed best protected Lissa. But hiding her cutting did nothing to protect her. I hadn't been able to make her stop. (19.1)

Sometimes doing your duty means doing something that's really hard. Rose is caught between a rock and a hard place—she doesn't want to let Lissa's secret out, but she doesn't want Lissa to keep cutting herself either. Does she make the right decision by telling Dimitri?

"I'm not guilty exactly… just sad sometimes. All of them used to be human or dhampir or Moroi. It's a waste, that's all, but as I said before, it's something I have to do. Something we all have to do. Sometimes it bothers me, and the chapel is a good place to think about those kinds of things. Sometimes I find peace there, but not often. I find more peace with you." (21.11)

It's sweet that Dimitri really contemplates killing Strigoi. Sure, it's his job to kill them before they kill Morois, but he still considers what he's doing. It's one of the things that makes us feel warm and fuzzy about the Russian trainer, but it also gets us thinking that Rose isn't the only one making sacrifices for her duty.

"In the old days, you were trained to fight alongside your guardians! You were taught to use magic as a weapon. Not any longer. We wait. We are victims." (22.43)

Does Lissa have an obligation to heal Victor… or the Morois? Victor seems to think she does, but maybe that's putting too much pressure on a seventeen-year-old girl. It's not her fault she's got super special magical powers, after all.

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