Through the character Rorshach, The Watchmen explores the issues of nature verses nurture for him. Moore adds that a super hero, can be a psychological argument. A super hero is neither born nor shaped by environment, it is the creation of an alter ego to suppress childhood conflicting inner issues. Rorshach dealt with issues as a young child that rationalized in his mind to hide behind a costume and a mask in order to live.
The first character the book introduces to the reader to is Rorschach, Walter Joseph Kovacs, one of the main characters. Rorschach reveals his past and why he wears a mask on page eleven. Walter’s past is revealed in chapter six when he is examined by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist gives Walter ink blots and his first vision is of his mother and a man. Also on chapter six, the reader, see that his mother was a prostitute who worked out of her home. Her reasons for practicing prostitution appear when she interacts with Walter. On page four of chapter six, Walter walked into his mother’s bedroom while she was entertaining a man. As soon as his mother realizes he is watching she hits him across the face. "You little shit! You know what you cost me, you ugly little shit. I shoulda listened to everybody else! I shoulda had the abortion." (Pg.4, chap.6, panel 6-7) Walter’s mother did’nt hesitate to physically or verbally abuse him. Her first reaction was to punch him in the face. This reflects the issue of a chain of a abuse. Walter’s mother was probably abused in more ways than one by her parents. Through her behavior of name calling and the rage she portrays it is most likely she was subjected to the same as a child. She basically told Walter that she didn’t want him and regretted having him. She neglects Walter of attention and love, just as she was by her parents. Both Walter and his mother are dealing with issues of neglect and a craving for attention. As a prostitute, we see on page three in chapter six Walter’s mother substitutes sex for love, attention, beauty, and care. She begs her male friend to stay, "Oh baby, please, listen. he’s kinda backwards. Please don’t get mad." She begs the man to stay because having sex makes her feel beautiful because the men want her and touch her. In chapter 6 on page three she says, "Oh you’re hurting me." She says this to her male customer, she did not make him stop she was willing to endure pain just to get the attention she craved. Through the rage she had toward Walter and her display of cruelty it shows that she was deprived of these things as a child and finds them in permiscuity.
Evidence of Walter’s anger toward society occurs when Walter reads about the Kitty Genovese’s story in the newspaper. "Some of them even watched. I knew what people were, then, behind, all the evasions, all the self-deception. Ashamed for humanity." (pg. 10, chap. 6, panel 8) Kitty was raped and murder. He formed an opinion about society that they were inhumane and cruel. Walter lashed back at the rapist. While talking to the psychologist it is revealed that Walter found the rapist who had murdered the girl. The rapist had fed Kitty’s flesh and bones to his two German shepards. Rorschach murdered the dogs. "It was Kovacs who said "Mother" then, muffled under latex. It was Kovacs who closed his eyes. It was Rorschach who opened them again." (pg. 21, chap.6, panel 6-7) This is a major turning point in the story. By saying that he opened his eyes and he was Rorschach his created alter ego could now flourish and develop. When Rorschach murdered the dogs he thought of his mother. When Walter lashed out he was doing it to his mother not the dogs, this is displayed when Walter mutters mother before he slays the dogs. Because of this incident and his mother, he took it out on the community and became Rorschach. "I went home. I took the remains of her unwanted dress and made a face that I could bear to look at in the mirror." (pg. 10, chap 6, panel 9) He was unable to look in the mirror because his own face is a reminder of his past. The mask gives him the ability to blind himself from the past. With the mask, Rorschach was able to live without a conscious, this is displayed when he burns the house that belonged to Kitty’s killer. " Stood in street watched it burn. Imagined limbless felt torso inside; breasts blackening; bellies smoldering; bursting into flame one by one." (Pg. 25, chap. 6, panel 8)
Walter hated women because of the way his mother treated him. He saw how little she thought of herself because she sold her body to men and her ridicule of love. His hatred was even towards the touch of women’s clothing and so he destroyed it. "Job bearable but unpleasant. Had to handle female clothing." "When I had cut it enough, it didn’t look like a woman anymore." (pg. 10, chap. 6, panel 4) Walter’s mother had so much influence over him that she altered his way of thinking and his idea’s of society. When being evaluated by the psychologist in prison, the psychiatrist concluded this, "Kovacs hated his mother. After her death, he needed somewhere to put the anger, and so he chose the criminal fraternity." (pg. 11, chap. 6, panel 8) Sally also directs her anger like Walter does. She was angry at her parents and probably even herself and she chose to take it out on Walter, using abuse. In return Walter redirected the anger he had at his mother to criminals on the streets. It seems through all of Sally’s reactions that she also was abused and so she punished Walter in the same way that she was as a child. If for some reason Sally was not abused and started abusing Walter, then this information could side with nature.
Rorschach creates an alter ego to deal with an anger displacement problem. The cause of both of these could relate to his mother and his upbringing. When he is bad he is hit, Walter learns through conditioning, and therefore he is taught and did not inherit. Moore explores both of these issues in depth, and creates a third element. This third element is the most controversy. People are not born to be good or bad, nor are they raised to be good or bad. Psychologists would say they are either natured or nurtured to be good or bad. Rorschach is a good example of both of those. He is also a confusion in the argument because he develops himself into a super hero. His mother did not influence him in anyway, either through gene heritage or observational learning to become a super hero. Through creation of this alter ego Walter receives attention. When he is dressed up he is no longer vulnerable to his mother or society, now he is feared and respected. He can hide from his memories of abuse because his sole concentration is on being a super hero. Even though he can forget, the memories still exist and therefore effect the rest of his life. Moore adds the third element to a psychological argument that disrupts the whole concept of either beliefs. Rorschach is a developed image in Walter’s mind that allows him to act as what he sees as a psychologically sound human being, with an average up bringing.