It started in Fourth Wing, and it continues in Iron Flame: Violet has a mental box and loves to put everything negative in it. We learned about it when it comes to her physical pain, but it becomes evident that the box becomes “overfilled” with negative emotions too.
Yes, I do have a theory about what this box actually represents in the story and yes, I do think it’s very relevant moving forward.
Violet’s box – What do we know so far
“It’s usually as easy as building a mental wall around the pulsing torment in my body, then telling myself the pain only exists in that box so I can’t feel it, but it isn’t working so well this time.” – Chapter 6, Fourth Wing
The box gets introduced very early in the Empyrean Series. In chapter 6, Fourth Wing, we already get to learn about how Violet has been coping with pain. And that’s it. We don’t have it mentioned again in Fourth Wing.
However, it becomes incredibly prevalent in Iron Flame.
“It takes me a second to shove the memories, the emotion, back into the box they have to stay in for this to work” – Chapter 4, Iron Flame
“Not with everyone watching. It goes into the box where I keep every other overwhelming emotion.” – Chapter 10,
“I quickly fold that fear into the box where I’ve decided to hide all my feelings this year. Well, all emotions except one: anger.” – Chapter 11, Iron Flame
“I breathe deeply and fight to shove the feelings back into the neat little box that holds all my inconvenient emotions, tugging my shields tight around me.” – Chapter 17, Iron Flame
“My anger slips from the box I painstakingly built for it, and power whips through me, scalding my veins.” – Chapter 19, Iron Flame
“There’s only that box and the blessed emptiness I know is achievable if I can get a little control.” – Chapter 19, Iron Flame
“…that information goes straight to the box.” – Chapter 20, Iron Flame
“I build a mental wall around the pain, picturing it disappearing beneath the box I build for it, just like I do with my shields.”– Chapter 24, Iron Flame
“…forcing the pain into a neat little box and shoving a lid over it and stumbling to my feet.” – Chapter 44, Iron Flame
“…so I put the heat, the pain, into my mental box and slam the lid shut on it, forcing my mind to ignore the agonizing burn and wield again.” – Chapter 61, Iron Flame
Violet’s box – Pandora’s box?
The concept of a “box” used by Violet serves as a powerful metaphor for emotional compartmentalization, a common coping mechanism where an individual separates and isolates painful or overwhelming emotions from their conscious mind to continue functioning. This imagery resonates deeply with the mythological concept of Pandora’s Box, albeit with significant differences in application and symbolism.
The parallel with Pandora’s Box lies in the conceptualization of a container holding significant contents—whereas Violet’s box holds negative emotions and pain, Pandora’s Box, according to Greek mythology, contained all the evils of the world. When Pandora, out of curiosity, opened the box, she unleashed these evils, leaving only hope inside once she managed to close it again. The metaphorical use of a box in both contexts signifies containment and the potential for release, whether it be of emotional turmoil or mythical evils.
However, the divergence is equally notable. Violet’s box is a tool of self-preservation, allowing her to function and wield her powers effectively by compartmentalizing her pain and emotions. It is an inward-looking mechanism, focusing on self-regulation and control. In contrast, Pandora’s Box serves as a cautionary tale about curiosity and disobedience, with its opening leading to the outward release of all hardships upon humanity, except for hope.
But that doesn’t mean once opened, Violence emotions won’t have an earth-shattering effect.
What will happen?
Presently, Violet’s box is overflowing with emotion. Lilith’s death? The loss of all those lives because leadership kept secrets? Her lover, Xaden, becoming the very enemy they abhor? Violet might be in control of her emotions, but even the strongest “box” will eventually break under too much pressure. And our Violet, is under too much pressure.
I think we are very much gearing for that, perhaps towards the end of book 3? Violet will realise very soon what she is (And yes, I think she is a God) and what she can achieve. (She is the sky, she is infinite)
Violet will soon unleash all her wrath and the contents of her box. To leave nothing but hope behind, much like Pandora’s box.