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The Heartbreaking Sacrifices Made in The Promised Neverland

by Jaylon Martin,

Season 2 of The Promised Neverland just premiered and CloverWorks is ready to throw us back into the struggle of Emma, Ray, and the rest of the Grace Field House kids as they try to survive in a world full of demons who want to make them the newest addition to their charcuterie boards. But the road to that newfound freedom was not easily found and laced with loss and sacrifice. And as I reflect on the first season, I find myself thinking about those sacrifices.

The children had to give up so much for the sake of survival. From the very first night, when Emma and Norman discovered Conny's death, they lost a childhood innocence that they could never get back. But worse, they came to the realization that the home they loved, and the mother who had raised them, were responsible for Conny's death and would be responsible for their deaths as well. Gone was the safety and trust that should come with being a child, replaced with the knowledge that they were merely livestock, food for monstrous demons. Illusions of their kind, loving parent vanished, replaced by a reaper who smiled in their faces as she planned their slaughter.

Just as crucial as the sacrifices they made for themselves are the sacrifices they made for others. To protect them from the wickedness of their reality, Emma, Norman and Ray kept the secret of the demons from the younger children. They watched silently as their siblings poured their joy, love, and faith into Mother in vain — the same silence that Ray had been immersed in since the early days of his youth.

Even escaping from the farm requires sacrifices. To make it over that wall meant leaving behind the babies, including Phil, who also lost his innocence because he must live without the fantasies associated with childhood, like security or freedom. Now, in a world of wild demons, Emma, Ray, and the rest of the escapees no longer live with the guarantee of safety or happiness, but at least they are free from the certain death that would come with staying at Grace Field under Mother's care.

But as much as the Mothers are antagonists in the children's story, they have also made sacrifices for the sake of their survival. Just like her kids, Isabella was once set up to be eaten by demons. She too discovered the lies of the world she was living in and the imminent danger that was closing in on her. But unlike them, when faced with the despair at the top of the wall, she was given a chance at survival. A chance that was given to Krone and every other Mother candidate. A chance that meant losing her friends, her child, and every other child that would be brought under her care.

When a young girl who has been scouted for potential to be a mother reaches the age of 12, she is introduced to the Grandmother and is told the truth of the farm. She is then given the option to die there on the spot or begin training for motherhood. This training is long, intensive, and, most importantly, highly competitive, with seemingly only one girl being chosen to be a Mother or Sister at a time. Contrarily, the failed trainees are put to work by the farm or sentenced to the same death they thought they avoided. Chosen sisters are then forced to bear children before receiving one of the few Mother positions.

Krone's life, similar to Isabella and the children, is a cruel test of endurance. As detailed in the manga, she once resided on a Farm as an orphan, curious about the world beyond the wall. After what she and her friends believed were several failed attempts to contact anyone past the orphanage, she was eventually discharged at the age of 12, where she learned the stunning truth about life outside. Forced to choose between working for the plantations and death, Krone withstood hellish training for a chance to stay alive.

She entered the training academy for Sisters and soon joined ranks with Cecille, her friend from her days at the orphanage. They plotted a daring escape, with a map that was designed from many old pieces of embroidered fabric, created by former trainees. However, Cecille misleads and betrays Krone in order to secure her own position as a Sister, framing her as the sole conspirator for the jailbreak to Grandmother Sarah. This backfires once Krone reveals that Cecille has the map embroidery, leading Grandmother to believe that Cecille was the mastermind, earning Krone the position as Sister.

To ask a child of any age to die where they stand or be a part of a system that they just learned killed all of their friends is heinous. Considering there are no other paths for them, it's an unfair decision to ask them to make. Grace Field House presents its tenants with an impossible choice and then subjects them to a process strictly designed to make more victims, all while instilling in them the idea to do whatever it takes to survive within the confines of their prison. Sacrifice your children. Sacrifice your colleagues. Sacrifice your joy. All for the sake of survival. Anything is disposable as long as it produces results. And do all this while knowing that you can never escape. This is the only life available to you. The closest that most children get to side-stepping certain death is becoming a cog in the very system that doomed them in the first place, a system that will gladly throw them away if they falter or fail.

Even after all of the impossible hardships they were forced to endure – the fear and pain that comes with having the veil torn from their eyes, the competitive and unending training, and the sacrifice of their very bodies to Grace Field House – they still have to live with the specter of death constantly over their shoulders. They will never know peace.

Upon entering Grace Field House, Krone garners immediate distrust from the children and Isabella. She too openly exhibits her prowess and watchfulness for the children, while appearing eccentric and challenging to Isabella. Even though her actions suggest that her primary motive is to become a Mother, Krone still makes sacrifices to get there.

Krone is still bound to dreams of freedom that she could never possess, which is what inclines her to help the children. Like everyone who exists within this society, her livelihood depends on her performance within the confines of her status. However, her willingness to jeopardize her only opportunity to live, in any capacity, diverges from simple self-indulgence — it is, instead, a desperate bid to impair the infallibility of a system that wants to destroy her. And Isabella is no different with her game of cat and mouse with the children.

Choosing to be a Mother, with all of the training and trauma that entails, also means choosing to have a chance at life past the age of 12 and a chance to give the next generation of doomed children some semblance of a happy childhood, short-lived and destined for tragedy as it may be. The system that brings about these ‘chances’ tears morality from the hands of its victims. Choices are no longer a matter of what is right or wrong or just. They are life and death, the split-second decision that determines if you will get to see tomorrow's sunrise.

I'm not arguing whether Isabella and Krone are innocent or not, nor am I arguing whether they made the right decision. However, I am arguing that, similar to Emma and the rest of the kids, they are victims – participants in a system that forces them to sacrifice so much for the sake of survival or freedom. Grace Field House is an eternal trap that makes you choose between dying or being broken down and whittled away until you are useful. Then it throws you away, only to repeat the cycle without even wasting a thought on the lives it consumed before. No one in The Promised Neverland made it to the top of the wall without losing something dear. Something precious. Something they can not get back. Grace Field forces them to pay a price for whatever path they choose. And that price is a steep one.

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