We are what we fight for?;
The Zexen Confederation succeeded from the Grasslands some fifty years before the events of Suikoden III. Since then, Zexen has grown as powerful as the Grasslands, though Harmonia still regards it as a start-up power. Zexen is governed by a council of elected members headquartered in Vinay del Zexay, the capital. These council members are generally merchants, and trade is the country's primary concern. The Zexens have persued an agressive agenda of modernization and captialism. In contrast to the exotic feeling of the Grasslands and its various cultures, Zexen strikes the player as a traditional western kingdom.
Chris's opening scene shows her parading through the streets of Vinay del Zexay. Her emotions cross her face-- she smiles at a child in the crowd, forgetting her duty to be stern. After the parade, she reveals to Salome that she didn't enjoy being made a display peice. She doesn't want to be a hero.
Chris has to report to the Zexen council to have her appointment as captain confirmed. In the council, she expresses her desire for peace and her reservations about hailing her as a hero when the old captain and vice-captain have died.
From here, it is clear that the government of Zexen sees Chris as a tool, rather than a person. They are interested in exploiting her image as the Silver Maiden to gain support for their government. It's also clear that the council cares more about the political gains to be had from war than the lives that are lost. After seeing Chris out, one member makes the chilling observation that a dead hero is more useful than a living one.
It also becomes clear that there's a disparity within the council on whether or not to ally with Harmonia. Considering that for most of the game, Harmonia is a principal antagonist, this isn't saying great things about the council. Certain members of the council are revealed to be accepting bribes from Harmonian sources. They are caught and expelled, but one gets the feeling the problem isn't really solved.
So, the honorable captain of the knights working for a corrupt government. Haven't I seen this in an RPG before? But instead of standing up to the corruption, Chris bows her head and accepts her orders. The message isn't that Chris is weak, though she hasn't quite found herself yet, but that things are more complicated than good and evil. A country is made up of more than it's government. Chris comes to align herself more with the people of Zexen than the council.
Does she resent being used as a tool of the council? Yes. It's hard for her to come to terms with and define what her duty is. She disappears for a while on a journey to find her father in enemy territory. This isnt something the newly appointed captain of the knights should do during wartime. It's also at least partially a ruse initiated by Salome allowing him to deal with the council in his own way without having his own scheming tied to Chris's name. But more than that, he realizes that there are some things she cannot learn in Zexen.
Chris doesn't find her father in the Grasslands, but she does find a new sense of purpose. All along, she realizes she has been fighting for some great impersonal idea, this thing called Zexen symbolized by the council. When she decides to take up the sword again, she does it for herself. Seeing the humanity of the Grassland people causes her to realize that she can't be a mere pawn. If she is to take up the sword, she needs to fight for her own causes. Her cause becomes protecting the people of her homeland, and she is glad to return to Zexen after the journey is through.
Chris coming to terms with herself is also her coming to terms with Zexen. Only in realizing what she is willing to fight for does she understand what duty is. And if the cost of protecting the country she loves is becoming a pawn of the council, so be it.