Study Guide

Inception Guilt and Blame

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Guilt and Blame

Mal: Tell me, do the children miss me?

Cobb: [His hands which are tying the rope to the chair stop moving. Slowly, one hand moves to Mal's leg and grabs it gently.] I can't imagine.

Cobb's subconscious just asked him if his kids missed his wife. His body language and response implies a resounding "Yes, of course!" Cobb blames himself not only for the death of his wife but for his kids not having a mother.

Cobb: See, I thought about calling out to them so they'd turn and smile and I'd see those… those beautiful faces of theirs. But it's all too late.

Random projection guy: Right. Now or never, Cobb.

Cobb: Then I start to panic. I realize I'm going to regret this moment, that I need to see their faces one last time, but the moment's passed. And whatever I do I can't change this moment.

Not only did Mal's inception lead to the loss of Phillipa and James' mother… but also of their father. Cobb, from the very beginning, is plagued with regret and with guilt.

Fischer: At the end, he called me to his deathbed. He could barely speak, but he took the trouble to tell me one last thing. He pulled me close… and I could only make out one word: "disappointed."

Browning (who's really Eames) tries to convince Fischer that his father was just "bad with emotions" but Fischer places a lot of blame on his father, particularly with how he handled the death of his wife when Fischer was just eleven. In the end, Fischer is able to forgive his father when he learns the "true" meaning of disappointed.

Mal: What do you believe? What do you feel?

Cobb: Guilt. I feel guilt Mal. And no matter what I do, no matter how hopeless I am, how confused, that guilt is always there reminding me of the truth.

Cobb's inner turmoil, as evidenced by Mal's projection, is essentially one of guilt. He was the one who pushed the boundaries and brought them into Limbo and, while he was also the one who got them out, it came at a great cost. Acceptance is the first step toward recovery… but shooting your guilt in the chest also helps.

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