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Ultraminimal handling of grief, June 17, 2012
The protagonist is at a funeral. The deceased is already in the casket; the mourners have departed. There's nothing left to do, but the protagonist is still hanging about. The implementation here is extremely minimal, not even allowing for CRY, THINK, REMEMBER, or any conversation about the departed. So it's pretty much impossible to get any details about who died, how the dead person related to the mourner, and so on.
The main interesting quirk of leaves is that events are narrated by a viewpoint character who is not the protagonist. Commands like EXAMINE are carried out by the viewpoint character, but it is the protagonist who moves in response to movement commands.
I do have one possible theory about what's going on here that lends a little bit of additional meaning to its very static feeling: (Spoiler - click to show)Possibly the viewpoint character is actually the spirit of the deceased, and this explains why s/he can't do anything, or speak to the protagonist, or leave the gravesite when the protagonist drives away. If that's true, it at least makes the closing lines of the text a bit more poignant and significant than they otherwise would be.
On the other hand, occasionally the text gives hints that would seem to play against this theory, as in:
I take a good look at you. I try to hold my breath to keep you from noticing my staring. It's rare to see you so upset.
Surely this concern about being noticed, and the ability to hold a breath, mean that the viewpoint character has to have corporeal form?
So my alternative theories are possibly either that a) the viewpoint character is the deceased, but doesn't actually realize it and continues to behave as though visible and breathing -- in which case the game doesn't do nearly enough to make that clear -- or b) the viewpoint character is someone with a hopeless crush on the mourning protagonist, but isn't actually in a relationship that would make it appropriate for them to leave together.
Whatever the accuracy of those speculations, the limitations of the interaction and the near-total lack of information about the backstory make it hard to empathize too deeply with the characters.