What We Can Learn From Prince Zuko Of "Avatar: The Last Airbender"

What We Can Learn From Prince Zuko Of "Avatar: The Last Airbender"

Hardworking Fire Nation brother versus prodigy sister.

When my boyfriend came to visit me, and I was busy in class or at a club meeting, my roommate was kind enough to distract him from working to show him the beginning episodes of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" ("A:TLA"). When I joined them for a series of marathons, I found something in Prince Zuko that I had never truly appreciated before.

While we don't live in a world where people can control any of the four elements, part of what makes "A:TLA" appealing is its basis in reality. Despite being a children's show, "A:TLA" possessed many qualities that made it well received despite a viewer's age. One such quality was the characters' ability to develop. With few exceptions, from when we first see a character to the very end, they manage to become a changed person over the course of the series. Prince Zuko, banished prince of the Fire Nation, is the character who goes through the most recognizable metamorphosis.

Seemingly one-dimensional at first with his brashness and obsession of capturing the Avatar, we slowly learn his story and experience his new objectives with him after he is marked a fugitive of the Fire Nation. Of the many tense relationships in the show, the sibling rivalry between Zuko and Princess Azula marks a point of interest in the series and is reflective of real-life competition.

What Zuko constantly struggles with, beginning in his childhood, is his lack of natural talent with firebending. Overshadowed by his prodigy sister and line of powerful ancestors, he constantly feels that he has to prove himself to be of any worth. When his mother, the only source of encouragement in his household, runs away, Zuko has to fend for himself, including watching himself sink in comparison to Azula.

While being a prodigy is nevertheless spectacular, not being one while having to work or compete with them is something I haven't had to face. To me, prodigies have been other people. In the fields I have chosen for myself, I don't have to face or work with noticeable prodigies. My boyfriend, on the other hand, can easily compare himself to the math prodigies who are years younger, and are just as or more experienced than he is.

Even though Azula has powerful firebending, and even though she practiced, she didn't have to work as hard as her brother. Zuko did more than physically train; he embarked on a life-changing journey with his Uncle Iroh and learned more about his character than any of the characters would have by relying solely on their talent.

From bad guy to good guy, Zuko remained hard headed. Many of his decisions were foolish, and he spent years pursuing what he thought would restore his honor. However, while on the run from the Fire Nation, he witnessed the struggles faced by the people who were affected by the war. When Fire Lord Ozai accepted him back as his son and his heir, he discovered that what he thought he wanted was at odds with his changed personhood.

With that realization, he joined the Avatar in bringing down his father, eventually becoming Fire Lord, while Azula lost her friends and suffered a great meltdown. No matter how great a firebender she was, she failed to have a similar self-exploration, depending on the approval or fear of others. Unlike Aang, another bending prodigy (and the Avatar), Azula waited too late to face her demons.

We all make shortsighted mistakes, fall off the path we chose, and feel unsure of our skills or talents. Some of us don't see ourselves as being worthy, and very few of us are considered prodigies, but these reasons alone should not be enough to hold us back. Let's take a hint from Fire Lord Zuko and work hard to find our true selves.

Cover Image Credit: Avatar Wikia

Popular Right Now

College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.

The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:

“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:


When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:

"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Must-See Movies For Your Summer

Check out these movies in theaters soon!


I can't wait till these movies come out. Going to the movies during summer is a great escape from the heat, giving you a few hours in the air conditioning while enjoying a big tub of popcorn.

Here are a few movies to check out this summer when you want to cool down for a little while:

1. "The Lion King"

2. "Aladdin"

3. "The Hustle"

4. "Men in Black: International"

Related Content

Facebook Comments