Like the lion of his namesake, Squall too is a prideful creature. And, like the lion, his pride is his self-deceit, an unintended ward against both his own failings and the closeness of others.
Lions are known for
their great strength and pride.
We hear Squall's thoughts, and our reactions to them are as various as the thoughts themselves are shocking. Squall is clearly accursed by a soldering contempt, and his inner discourse does not hold back when it comes to harsh truths and annoyance-sprung quips. He calls the lovable Laguna an idiot, looks down on Rinoa for the emotional way in which she expresses herself, and seems to only barely handle Zell's boisterous behaviour.
But his thoughts can be just as inspired as they are negative. We see his piercing intellect in his calm, objective considerations of the differences between the uncompromisingly peace-loving president of Fisherman's Horizon and the begrudgingly violent SeeDs of Garden. We see him struggle with the knowledge of his self-inflicted helplessness and unhappiness. Despite his hidden abrasiveness, selfishness and blatant immaturity, we can't help but notice the brilliance that desperately wants to be let out, and we can't deny the contradictory existence of maturity that his friends, the other SeeDs, and Garden Headmaster Cid himself come to rely upon.
Ironically, without his immense pride, his childhood "fix"—freedom from pain caused by others, freedom from the pain of loss—may not have been possible. In order to convince himself he didn't need anyone, Squall was forced to assert superiority over others, which manifested itself in his aloof behaviour and slightly condescending attitude. He was full of pride: charmed by his own successes, beguiled by the intellect he knew he possessed. He was laundering above everyone around him, as one who knows he is outside of society does, but inevitably finding himself a part of it despite.
To tell you the truth, I
worry too much about what others think of me.
But even he sees how foolish his stance is. And when he does, we rejoice at this, because his pride to this point has done nothing but hurt him and alienate him—which is not what he really wants, despite what he pretends to think.
Conceit may be the one attribute of pride Squall lacks, but even while this is the case, he maintains a self-erected state of egotism. This may seem contraditctory—for what is the ego without a measure of conceit?—but in fact these two concepts can be pulled from one another without much complaint from either party.
Conceit, at the very least, implies excessiveness. But the only thing Squall embraces to excess is his solitary nature.
Although he's aware of his considerable abilities, Squall seems more apt to brush aside opportunities for self-appraisal than take them up. Doing his conceit no favours are his sudden and nullifing instances of internal self-deprecation, in which he brutally and concisely pinpoints those things wrong with him—he does it so well that we're all of shocked, pitying and forgiving, especially while he isn't. We, the audience, become his ego, attribute to him a sort of artificial conceit which, in these moments, he would do better to have than to lack.
Squall's ego, then, is less concerned with his considerable abilities than with his self-centeredness. Whether wallowing in his sorrows, voiceless amidst a crowd, or engaged a heated argument with someone else (the distinction of "someone else" here is necessary—he's prone to heated arguments with himself, you see) Squall subjects himself to an array of internal monologues that just can't seem to manifest within a public medium. Even with a lack of conceit, Squall's thoughts tend to feature himself in the forefront, or at the least, eventually lead back to himself.