Violet Sorrengail, the protagonist of Fourth Wing, suffers with a degenerative condition characterized by overly flexible joints and chronic pain. This condition closely mirrors Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a real-world inherited disorder that the book’s author, Rebecca Yarros, also lives with.
In the world of Fourth Wing, Violet’s condition makes her joints extremely flexible and prone to fractures. To prevent injury, she often has to bind her joints, but she is still in constant pain.
In the real world, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome affects connective tissues, which provide support to skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs, and bones. The syndrome manifests in several types, each with unique symptoms. However, common symptoms across types include:
- Overly flexible joints: Due to looser connective tissue, joints can move beyond the normal range of motion.
- Stretchy, fragile skin: The skin may be exceptionally soft and prone to bruising or scarring. Scars may appear thin and crinkly.
- Chronic pain: This can occur in muscles, ligaments, and bones.
In the context of Fourth Wing, Violet’s condition results in her joints being overly flexible, and she experiences chronic pain. She mentions that pain is her comfort zone, indicating her familiarity with functioning despite the discomfort.