Darrow is an interesting case study of how a desire for vengeance changes a person. The loss of a loved one can seriously alter someone’s mindset, but negative emotions can make the change that much more drastic. In Darrow’s case, readers see a boy who has lost the person he cherishes most. He sees that he has been fed nothing but lies, and so he seeks revenge on the people who sought to make him credulous.
Darrow is a Red in society, the lowest caste. However, for the longest time, he has believed that he was a pioneer for humanity and that he would carve a future for the softer Colors. Oh, how wrong he was. After he is forced to pull the legs of his wife while she hangs (effectively killing her due to the gravity of Mars), Darrow seeks martyrdom much like hers and buries her body despite the illegality. However, Darrow is saved by the Sons of Ares, and he sees for himself the lies he has been told. His wife died because officials wanted to hide a lie. Darrow almost died for a lie. Understandably, Darrow is enraged and seeks revenge for all that he has suffered for the pleasure of those on the surface.
Darrow is a character very much fueled by anger and vengeance. Without these attributes, he wouldn’t be the avenging Darrow, Red carved Gold, that readers have followed and grown to empathize with. His hatred for the lies the Golds fed him and the Golds themselves are clearest following his transformation into a Gold. When he stands in the audience of the Archdeacon, all Darrow could think about was how much he wanted to end him.
However, Darrow isn’t dumb. He may be a Red, but Darrow has shown a capacity for learning far beyond what is typical as seen when he easily solves a puzzle in front of Mickey. He knows how to play his cards right and how to bide his time. He perfectly imitates what a Gold would say and do, trying to create potential allies in his rising. Slowly but surely, he erases whatever suspicions arise around him with his charisma, attracting to him the riffraff of the Golds such as Sevro.
In spite of Darrow’s attempts to remain distant, however, Pierce Brown makes many attempts to remind readers that Darrow is still a human. He may appear perfect on the outside, having been carved into the likeliness of a Gold, but inside he is still Darrow. While living in the luxuries of the Golds, Darrow thinks of his family and how they will go to sleep hungry that night in comparison to him. When Darrow comes to the realization that Titus, who he thought was a fellow Gold, is actually a Red, he laments the fact that he will have to kill a fellow Red. Beyond that, however, Darrow realizes that Titus is exactly who the Sons of Ares didn’t want Darrow to become. This is an important moment for Darrow’s growth, because this is where he fully realizes how important Eo’s dream is to him. If Darrow had not realized that Eo wanted him to be more than just a vengeful monster, than it’s not unbelievable that Darrow would have become the monster. Then, there is his relationship with Julian and Cassius. At first, Darrow treats Cassius nicely as only a way to gain favor within the Golds. However, he later comes to care for Cassius. This relationship came with a price for Darrow was the one to kill Cassius’ younger twin brother, Julian. At first, Darrow hides this fact in order to keep Cassius from becoming his enemy. Later on, this sentiment changes to Darrow not wanting his relationship with Cassius to end. Alas, Darrow’s attempts are futile as the proctors reveal that Darrow was the one to kill Julian, fragmenting their relationship.
On the topic of Eo, she is a huge part of Darrow’s development. Throughout the story, Eo serves as Darrow’s rock. Darrow constantly refers back to Eo, wondering if he is betraying her or if he is becoming who she wanted him to be. This dependency is not uncommon for those who have lost a loved one. In Darrow’s case, Eo could very well be his only sane thought as he is forced to kill those around him. She may be the only one who keeps him remembering who he was as his body is no longer what it once was.
Darrow is such a complex character even though he should, in theory be a straightforward character. He is filled with rage, but is cold and calculating. He hates the people around him, but empathizes with them. Darrow is by far not the only character to follow an avenging theme, but he certainly is one of the most compelling.